Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Ratzinger: “Bishop, take your time with that pedophile”

posted by Rod Dreher

Well, this is depressing:

The priest, convicted of tying up and abusing two young boys in a California church rectory, wanted to leave the ministry.
But in 1985, four years after the priest and his bishop first asked that he be defrocked, the future Pope Benedict XVI, then a top Vatican official, signed a letter saying that the case needed more time and that “the good of the Universal Church” had to be considered in the final decision, according to church documents released through lawsuits.
That decision did not come for two more years, the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.

More:

Rick Simons, an attorney in Hayward, Calif., who represented two of the victims who later sued the Diocese of Oakland, said he met Father Kiesle when he took his deposition in prison.
“Of all the priests who abused children that I have met, and there’s probably a couple dozen, he was by far the most evil, remorseless sociopath of the lot,” he said.

The now-retired bishop who tried to get Kiesle defrocked says that in those days, the Vatican was still reeling from all the priests who left the ministry after the Second Vatican Council that Pope John Paul II wanted to make that harder to do.
The link between the future Pope Benedict and the Father Murphy case was more tenuous, but now, they’ve got Cardinal Ratzinger’s signature on the letter ordering the Oakland bishop to slow down on Kiesle’s case — this, even though there was no question but that he was a monster.
This latest revelation does not surprise me, and it should not surprise anybody who has paid the slightest attention to this scandal in this decade. They all did it — by which I mean, virtually the entire hierarchy is complicit to a greater or lesser degree in shuffling child-molesting priests around, or keeping them in some way in a position to commit their crimes. Why? Clericalism. The clerical class is what mattered most to these people, not the children and their families, to whom they were functionally indifferent.
I would be very surprised indeed if this is the only thing to come out to link the Holy Father to this sort of thing. You should expect more of it. Again, if anybody thinks Pope Benedict should resign, they should sober up and understand that there is almost certainly nobody under him who is untainted by this thing. This was the way the hierarchy operated for a very long time. At least this current pope seems to have at long last been enlightened about the scope of this catastrophe. But he is not doing enough to make it right. What is it going to take?



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:12 am


“I would be very surprised indeed if this is the only thing to come out to link the Holy Father to this sort of thing. You should expect more of it.”
And that is the tragedy of it all, is it not? We have seen so much come out in the recent past as more documents are ordered released that we are now to the point where there is an expectation that the next shoe will drop, and the one after that, and so on.



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Alberto Hurtado

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:26 am


Rod, did you read the letter and think about the text itself or did you just post this according to the news story? I have ZERO trust in a NYT story that does not significantly quote a letter. Sorry. But on this story after their whopper with the Wisconsin priest, the NYT has negative credability.



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tscott

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:43 am


I tried to say this same thing on the “How does Benedict fix this mess” post. You call it clericalism, I say they think the priesthood is the church. I’ve admitted Chesterton almost persuaded me to be Catholic. Please admit this could almost persuade you to be Protestant. As Barbara Nicolosi-Harrington adds, “But I would say I’ve found that things are shaking out historically so that if you are someone who is a traditional biblical Christian, Catholic or Protestant, you will end up on the same side of the divide”.



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CatherineNY

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:54 am


I don’t trust the NY Times’s reporting on this subject, much less their analysis. This is a good analysis of the same story: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100033706/and-so-the-relentless-attempts-to-get-pope-benedict-xvi-continue/



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Peterk

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:05 am


so I wonder how much the press will do on this story?
http://www.sportsmyriad.com/2010/04/swimming-sex-abuse-scandal-breaking/
“Youth swimming coaches, many certified by USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, have been able to molest young swimmers and then move from town to town, escaping criminal charges and continuing to victimize other under-aged swimmers, an ESPN “Outside the Lines” investigation has found.”
Over 12,000 certified coaches, 36 banned
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/otl/news/story?id=5071820
also where are the stories about child abuse in the Episcopal church? or weren’t there any? really?
In 1985 the child abuse by Catholic priests was just coming out. Those opposed to Benedict XVI are working hand in hand with the press to damage what he has done.
I’m sure if we dig hard enough we can always find something in one’s past that if looked at in today’s light and experience we would regret. this is one letter let us look at the whole case file instead of dribs and drabs released by an attorney working with the press



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Roland de Chanson

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:11 am


The source of this letter is the lawyer Anderson who makes his living from contingency fees taken from victims’ awards. He is trying to sue the Vatican. This is another example of sit-on-your-ass investigative journalism.
A couple of points:
(1) I don’t see the letter cited.
(2) The article is inconsistent. Initially it says the priest “wanted to leave the ministry.” Then it changes to “forced from the priesthood.” Well, which is it?
(3) The priest was “volunteering” after his conviction. Evidently Cummins had him unassigned. This evidently did not require any action on the part of the Vatican. Further, Cummins banned him from the parish when he discovered his “volunteering.”
(4) The headline states “put off punishing.” But a dispensation from clerical orders is not a punishment, if that was the topic of the letter.
I think Rod is right about the effects of clericalism. The Church as long as I can remember was about government “of the clergy, by the clergy and for the clergy.” But in this case the bishop had taken action; it is implied that the Kiesle either requested or at least consented to the petition to leave the priesthood. Other than the interminable Vatican bureaucratic machinery, I can’t see a smoking gun from the “evidence” of this NYT article (the “paper of record”, God help us).
But kudos to the hacks Goodstein and Luo who chased down a recondite Latin letter. Long hours in dusty archives. It’s dirty work but someone’s got to do it.



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AAJD

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:19 am


It wasn’t just clericalism. As Philip Jenkins’ book on the crisis, together with the scholarship of Thomas Plante makes clear, until the 1980s nobody, including the psychological/psychiatric community, really understood enough about sexual abuse to know how to deal with it.
That being said, there really is no excuse for this sort of thing on the basis of the early canons from the local, regional, and ecumenical councils, all of which SHOULD have been known in Rome at any point, and all of which bear out an impressive consensus: ALL sexual sins of ANY and every type by clerics (from readers and subdeacons up through deacons, priests, and bishops), even between consenting ADULTS, constitute grounds for instant and permanent deposition from office. Why these canons were ignored is unfathomable and intolerable.



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Roland de Chanson

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:31 am


Rod,
The title of your post (Ratzinger: “Bishop, take your time with that pedophile”) is contumelious. I glossed over it when initially reading the post. Are you playing one-upmanship with the NYT?
An English translation of the letter is here:
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_CHURCH_ABUSE_TEXT?SITE=WYCHE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:03 am


Wow, in eight posts we’ve had:
blame the media
blame the lawyers
insist it happens everywhere
We can now expect:
blame the gays
blame the culture



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TTT

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:13 am


Somehow this will all turn out to be the fault of anti-Catholic bigotry, I’m sure. Even the kids who tried to squirm away while being molested only did so because they were bigots.



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Your Name

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:17 am


OK, I’ll bite, just to save the rest of you the trouble.
“It’s all about homosexuality don’t you see, most of the victims were teenage boys, all gays behave that way, if we could just shoot them all the problem will go away.”
“We live in such a corrupt culture that even the Catholic Church has not been able to defend herself against it, the real villain here is the National Enquirer for lowering the tone.”
There, now the rest of you don’t have to worry about blaming the real perp, who, in this case, was J. Ratzinger.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:18 am


Of course, there’s also “blame Vatican II.” The abuse and coverups only began with Vatican II and the church was pure and honest before that.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:20 am


I think I remember reading about this guy Stephen Kiesel somewhere and he certainly sounded like a monster.
I have been trying to provide a defense against many articles published recently in the Seattle Times, but the link below provided the best defense that I found.
Things were way different back then, I am somewhat ill that he just didn’t follow the Oakland Bishops advice then and get rid of Kiesel but then things were different, and different everywhere, at schools too, everywhere. But they are going to try to draw blood and maybe have. I am waiting to see how the pope responds but I am sure he already has a response.
Heres that link.
http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=529896



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:28 am


Any critique of the NYT that quotes Donahue can’t be taken seriously. There are serious critiques, for sure, but not one who quotes that alarmist and hack



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thomas tucker

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:28 am


Heck, the biggest outrage in this story is that the guy got three years PROBATION after tying up and molesting two kids! That’s what needs to be investigated, for Heaven’s sake.



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T L Smith

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:35 am


It appears that far far back in the history of true Christ following Christianity many took a turn away from truth and this present crisis is the result. Truth is only one; untruth myriad. Those Christians whose actions are in opposition to their professed faith have in reality separated from truth and are defined by Wikipedia as apostate. Apostates do not see themselves as being apostate. How can those who stand apart from truth ever teach truth or uphold truth? Christ said that by their fruits we can discern apostates.



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Dan

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:40 am


Rod,
I write as a Protestant clergyman and one who has enormous respect for Catholic theology and practice–at least as I have seen it lived out by the many Catholics I have had the honor to work with. What continues to surprise me is that so many are having trouble diagnosing what the issue is: it is the preservation of power and authority at all costs, even at the cost of horribly abused children. I am glad to see you coming around to this viewpoint. I remember when you wrote your previous blog that you wrote off this scandal as a lack of masculinity in the church:
Tony hits on something that to me, was one of the most astonishing mysteries about the whole foul business: why almost nobody, when learning what molester priests were doing to boys, acted like a real man, and stopped it. Not bishops, not brother priests (for the most part), and not laymen. You may hate me for saying this, but if some men of the parish had taken Father Pederast out back and beat the hell out of him, and run him out of the parish, a lot of this evil wouldn’t have happened. But rightful Church authority was deployed to neuter healthy masculine instincts at every level. And now look. (Crunchy Con, August, 4, 2009)
The current pope learned about a specific case of abuse in 1985 and the problem it seems to me wasn’t that he didn’t act as a man–it’s that he didn’t want the priesthood (and its authority) tainted. At other times in your blogs you have suggested that this scandal was allowed to become so pervasive because the church decided to take a psycho-therapeutic approach instead of exercising moral authority. I think the latest revelations show that the issue was and continues to be about preserving privilege and power (the “good of the church” is not referring to the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of those in the church’s care).
To be sure my own tradition (Presbyterian) has had its share of abuse cases. And there was a time when my denomination used to turn a blind eye to abusive pastors (mostly those having affairs with other adults–still a grave abuse and a professional and moral disgrace). But I think we had a smoother transition to tackling this head on because 1) lay people (which includes a lot of parents and married people) are on our oversight boards and 2) our theology is not rooted in hierarchical authority. For the church to admit failings by its leaders is to admit failings in its teaching. This is not a scandal created by a Catholic-hating press (although I am sure some of that exists), but by a leadership that put its own standing above the most vulnerable in its care. Sadly, it will take a long, long time for the Catholic Church to recover from this–because it is not only a matter of apologizing and removing offending priests and bishops (!), but because it will have to reformulate its teaching and how that teaching is vested in limited and sinful men.



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Goodguyex

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:41 am


Bishop Ratzinger was not the point man to handle this overall priest abuse thing in 1985 unless it involved Confession. And appearantly it did not involve sexual solicitation in Confession.
If it had been delivered to Bishop Ratzinger after 2001 it would have been a different story.
This request went to the wrong man at the Vatican.
John Alley Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter, no friend of the Vatican, puts that into perspective.
Now all this exasperates me too, all this bureaucracy. But ultimately the man was defrocked in 1987, two years later. No mention is made in this article how this was done or by whom in the diocese or at the Vatican.



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Kellen

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:50 am


Rod -
Please, please, please, please, please stop doing this. If the world should have learned anything from the stories which have been written over the last couple of weeks, it’s that the truth is much more complicated than the NYT would have you believe. Damian Thompson and Fr. Zuhlsdorf have already pointed out several inconsistencies which raise questions about the context of this document.
Briefly, 1) it’s unclear why the CDF was involved, and 2) the language of the document (at least the brief portions which have been quoted) speak of dispensation rather than discipline. It appears that the letter was not a simple discussion of whether or not to punish a convicted child molester.
Either way, Card. Ratzinger was deciding what to do with a priest who had been removed from active ministry. Note that the child molester returned to ministry against the command of the bishop and without the knowledge of the CDF. In other words, during the entire time period in question, Fr. Kiesle was not supposed to be in active ministry, and thus there should have been no danger in the delay. The fact that he did and got away with it for several years was the fault of the parish leadership and the bishop, not the head of the CDF.
Your accusation that this is an example of Card. Ratzinger putting child molesters “in some way in a position to commit their crimes” is thus misleading. If Card. Ratzinger wanted to give the man an opportunity to repent and be reformed while not an active minister, that was probably naive but hardly evil, especially given the inadequate understanding of pedophilia at the time.
Still, these red flags don’t stop you from putting an inflammatory spin on Pope Benedict’s actions: “Bishop, take your time with that pedophile.” The assumption that everyone makes, including you apparently, is that Benedict sat on it knowing that children were being abused. A closer reading of the story reveals that this isn’t the case.
Rod, I really like you, I do. I’ve faithfully read your work for years now, and I understand where you’re coming from. I know you’ve seen a lot of evil, and I know you’ve seen how deep it goes. Nobody wants this to turn into another Maciel situation, writing off someone who warns about the evil deeds of a presumably holy man. But this is absurd, really absurd. Your oh-of-course-he’s-complicit tone with these stories is offensive. Yes, he may have been complicit, but can we please refrain from damaging his reputation until we have actual evidence? What is the Orthodox POV on gossip again?
I think you should retract or at least update this post with some revision. I already have to constantly explain the simple facts of this scandal to those I discuss it with, people who think that sexual abuse is rampant right now, rather than being largely a problem 30+ years ago, people who think that most priests are child-abusers, people who think that Pope Benedict is a scary and evil closet-Nazi. They believe this not because they’re stupid or bigoted, but because this is the genuine impression they’ve gotten from a sensationalist, knee-jerk media that they trust. Please don’t be part of the problem.
Sorry to be so long-winded, but it needed to be said.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:53 am


An authoritarian hierarchy exists for the benefit of those who have positions of authority in the hierarchy. And the members of the hierarchy will act to protect the hierarchical structure.
Think about the metaphor often used that the clergy are shepherds tending their flock of lay churchmen. Why shepherds tend their flocks?
They shear and sell the wool. They eat the sheep. They breed them to build up the size of the flock so there will be more sheep to shear and eat.
And the churches – all of them – have been doing it a long, long, time.
It wasn’t just clericalism. As Philip Jenkins’ book on the crisis, together with the scholarship of Thomas Plante makes clear, until the 1980s nobody, including the psychological/psychiatric community, really understood enough about sexual abuse to know how to deal with it.
Allow me to differ with you, AAJD. We have known how to deal with sexual abusers for a very long time – hang them from the nearest tree. Or, in these more civilized times, beat them to an inch of their lives and then throw them in jail for a very long time.
The problem historically has been when the abusers were in positions of Authority and were protected from the natural consequences of their actions.
I see that (Pastor?) Dan has said something similar above.
The problem is that men who were supposed to act like men and protect those under their care were neutered – or were eunuchs to begin with.



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Goodguyex

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:03 am


What is truly amazing that between 1985 after he was removed from the ministry and even after he was defrocked in 1987 he was still working with youth as a volunteer.
Even after he was formally defrocked he was doing extended church work with youth! Whether he was defrocked or not this is what is really insane.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:06 am


If Card. Ratzinger wanted to give the man an opportunity to repent and be reformed while not an active minister, that was probably naive but hardly evil, especially given the inadequate understanding of pedophilia at the time.
Bloody – freaking – heck.
Any man who has a mindset oriented towards protecting children, and not towards protecting the organization of which he is a part, understands what to do about pedophiles. You – in these civilized days – call the police and have the pedophile removed from polite society.



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Goodguyex

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:17 am


OK, so he was defrocked in 1987. Did the local bishop formally do this or was it someone at the Vatican?
As for what I understand it would not be Cardinal Ratzinger because he was not responsible for defrocking sex abusers outside of the confines of Confession.
That part of the story is left out, just as most of the letter sent in 1985 is only taken into select context.
And again what is really remarkable is that even after he was defrocked somehow he managed to get into volunteer youth ministry at some of the parishes. That is not the Vatican’s fault.



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michael

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:20 am


This looks like a smoking gun. If he had any decency he’d step down, and catholics with any decency should stop defending him and stop blaming the media/gays/etc. Catholic writers like Dowd who won’t allow people to move on, are a gift to the church.



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Roland de Chanson

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:22 am


I agree with John E. and Pastor Dan. Any man, any father of a family would know how to deal with someone who molested his children. Any guy I have ever discussed this sordid mess with has the same gut reaction.
One problem is that the perverts seek out vulnerable children – broken families with a dead or absent or alcoholic father. They ingratiate themselves into situations where they have access to children.
Another problem is that in the vast majority of cases (80% or more), pervert priests prey on young men who may still be unsure of their developing sexuality. Homoerotic themselves, they select boys and young men who may have invert inclinations themselves. Shanley in Boston was a founder of NAMBLA. Res ipsa loquitur.
Though the precedent was unjust, the example of Abelard would be instructive of an effective ratio agendi for punishing these molesters.



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Carlo

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:28 am


Rod:
this is becoming totally tedious. So, there is a letter signed by Ratzinger that says that defrocking a priest is a matter of “grave significance.” Oh my gosh!
That’s so scandalous!
Am I supposed to take this seriously? Yes, certainly in the 1980 people at the Vatican (all of them, not Ratzinger in particular) were quite unaware of the seriousness of thes sexual abuse problem in places like Oakland. And certainly, with today’s insight they should have moved faster to defrock that guy, although as you well know the process of formal laicization bears little practical relevance to the important matters that the priest a) be prosecuted and b) be kept out of ministry, especially with children.
I hate clericalism, but the facts here do not justify all the moralistic posturing. Especially if it happens once a week when the NYTimes feeds you their “scandalous” revelation du jour. Do you ever worry about being manipulated, by the way?



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Goodguyex

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:30 am


Another interesting thing is the notion that Kiesle wanted “to leave the ministry”. OK, so the bishop seems to have removed him from the ministry as he asked. Did he ask to be “defrocked”?
This whole piece seems a bit skewed as to imply he, Kiesle, was begging to be controlled but the Vatican did nothing. Ultimately he was defrocked but he was never sent to jail until much later for another offense.



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Ken

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:31 am


“It’s all about homosexuality don’t you see, most of the victims were teenage boys, all gays behave that way, if we could just shoot them all the problem will go away.”
Your Name at 10:17, who has actually said that all gays behave that way? It sounds to me like you’re attempting to discredit criticism of gay priests by caricaturing it.



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Scrappy

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:40 am


Rod,
Are you going to comment on the Newsweek article?
http://www.newsweek.com/id/236096



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Mere Catholic

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:52 am


“You – in these civilized days – call the police and have the pedophile removed from polite society”
And in this case, the police were called in the late 1970s and the punishment was 3 years of probation, hardly a removal from polite society. Even during these “civilized days”, what would you get? A few years in prison followed by mandatory registration on a sex offender list (which BTW didn’t go into effect till 2007) that is poorly updated and not actively enforced. Chelsea King was raped and killed by a man who repeatedly violated the terms of his parole with no consequences. We are blind if we think that polite society somehow has a better handle on how to deal with pedophiles.



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Mere Catholic

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:53 am


“You – in these civilized days – call the police and have the pedophile removed from polite society”
And in this case, the police were called in the late 1970s and the punishment was 3 years of probation, hardly a removal from polite society. Even during these “civilized days”, what would you get? A few years in prison followed by mandatory registration on a sex offender list (which BTW didn’t go into effect till 2007) that is poorly updated and not actively enforced. Chelsea King was raped and killed by a man who repeatedly violated the terms of his parole with no consequences. We are blind if we think that polite society somehow has a better handle on how to deal with pedophiles.
***
I read through the NY Times documents and it is a frustrating read. Bishop Cummins and his subordinate repeatedly made the case for laicizing this man, only to receive either silence or vague responses from Cardinal Ratzinger. I would love to hear his side of things, but that’s the problem here. There is no response directly from the Holy Father, rather the usual defensive posturing from the Holy See’s press office. I’d rather hear it directly from the Successor of Peter, even if it is something along the lines of “I screwed up in this case. I sincerely believed that this priest could be properly rehabilitated despite the gravity of his sins. I realize now that pedophilia is a moral failure AND a crime and while the Church calls for mercy and forgiveness, it also asks for justice and irrespective of what the criminal courts do, the ecclesiastical court will provide justice”. There are reports in some Italian newspapers that the CDF is working on a zero tolerance policy to be implemented worldwide. It will be a long time coming but it needs to be accompanied by clear words from Benedict on how his own position evolved and with clear deeds that demonstrates that he takes this seriously.



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diane

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:58 am


Ken, you are right, it is all about young boys who are at the whim of these sexually morbid gay priests who pray upon young innocent, impressionable boys. Any man, who takes advantage of the innocence and vulnerability of impressionable young males should be castrated, maimed and shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Priest, gay or straight!!!! Then the world would be a better place like it should be.



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Charles Cosimano

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm


I may be on very shakey ground with this because I don’t know a lot about the details of this whole thing and frankly I don’t want to know, but it strikes me that among the priests involved, there are very few Jesuits.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:18 pm


Traveling and having to type on iPhone, but quickly, READ THE LETTER. The bishop made it clear that kiesle was a sex criminal. Card ratzinger, speaking for the Vatican, delayed his laicization “for the good of the universal church. What reasonable exculpatory explanation could there be? I see none.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm


This letter was first reported by the AP. So what if it appears in the nyt, and was given by a plaintiffs lawyer? If it’s true — and no one denies it’s validity — it’s validity is not compromised by ad hominem attacks on its source of disclosure. And saying, “oh look, swimming coaches are pervs too!” is a risible response.



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Your Name

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm


Mr. Dreher is on the right track here. This is almost too obvious to be worth saying, but since there do seem to be a number of people, even here, who have their heads firmly buried in the sand, I guess I’ll say it.



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Your Name

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:27 pm


I’m sure there will be more instances of times when Pope Benedict XVI did not come down forcefully on the side of protecting children. This is unfortunate, mostly because of the children who were or might have been abused later on. It is also unfortunate because it tarnishes his credibility. While the reputation of the Church is important, it is not more important than the well-being of its members, especially innocent children.
Furthermore, one would expect a swifter and more apologetic response from the Vatican. They know more information will come to light. When the Wisconsin and German abuse cases came to light, the Vatican should have apologized profusely and established a committee of lay-Catholics and non-Catholics to review and prepare a publication relating to the Vatican’s handling of past abuse cases. Recommendations for action against members of the clergy who were complicit in the offenses should have been part of the plan.
That being said, none of the above negates the possibility that the press has been unscrupulous in its attempt to prove that the Pope was an enabler of sexual abuse. The Pope has never been shown to be the bad guy. Did he take too long to come around to recognizing the seriousness of the problem? Yes, probably. But this has already been established. We all know of the systemic failure of the Church in handling these cases. We know that Cardinal Ratzinger did not take a proactive enough approach in dealing with these cases. That doesn’t seem to be enough for the Times, and they continue to attempt to link the Pope with the worst offenders. At this point I’m much more interested in learning what the Church has done to rectify this problem and how successful they have been than I am in learning of the Pope’s largely irrelevant hand [given his position in the Church at the time] in decades old responses to even older abuse cases.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm


One more thing — Benedict is, in some ways, being ACORN’d by strategic leaks of documents that makes the Vatican and it’s apologists look deceptive, self deceptive, or at least like chumps with each new story. Just like ACORN did. Better for the Pope To do something dramatic rather than suffer this death by a thousand cuts.



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Goodguyex

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm


The main thing is that Kiesle was already removed from the ministry. “Defrocking” in 1985 did not have any more affect on anything. And he was defrocked supposedly two years later in 1987. Defrocking would not have meant anything as he was no longer serving as a priest.
I wonder if it was at the Vatican who did this defrocking.
And again the most remarkable thing about all this is that even after being defrocked he was working with youth in some parish functions. Supposedly the bishop did not know.



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Nora

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm


Oh, Lord…I am so sick and tired of the “the truth is more complicated than this” nonsense.
I’m with Dan: if Catholic men — parishioners, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, cops, firemen, bankers, doctors, priests, who-bloody-ever — had manned up and yanked these guys off their feet and kneecapped them the first time they found out about this stuff, there wouldn’t be anything for the NYT to report.
There just isn’t a conversation here. This whole disgusting mess is the fault of weak men who let other weak and evil men dominate them by coercing and manipulating them into thinking silence was the right thing to do.
As for the swimming coach story, it’s the subject of a 20/20 expose and I’ve read about it in all the major newspapers and in our local newspapers, as I have read about several other horrific sex abuse incidents. I am not buying this idea the media is going out of its way to pick on the Catholic Church.
The Church story is bigger by nature. All abuse is evil and wicked and horrible, but there is something extra evil and wicked and horrible about the Catholic Church being this devious and deceitful and corrupt, especially given the nature of the crimes they were covering up.
This will never be over until they just come clean, admit it all, and clean house. I don’t care what happens to these men if they’re all defrocked. Let them subsist at minimum wage for the rest of their lives, or go on welfare.



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kenneth

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm


“One more thing — Benedict is, in some ways, being ACORN’d by strategic leaks of documents that makes the Vatican and it’s apologists look deceptive, self deceptive, or at least like chumps with each new story. Just like ACORN did. Better for the Pope To do something dramatic rather than suffer this death by a thousand cuts.”
Yeah. It’s not the six-decade 100% proven track record of deception that makes the church look bad, it’s the strategic timing of its political enemies. You seem to be one of the rare religious conservatives who get it with this problem, until you drop bombs like this.



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Nick

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:43 pm


Even the staunchest defenders of Benedict XVI should acknowledge that in this new batch of documents the then Cardinal Ratzinger comes across as a temporizing bureaucrat primarily concerned about the impact of bad PR. To the frustration of Bishop Cummins and others in the Diocese of Oakland, Cardinal Ratzinger temporized probably hoping that “the problem” will somehow disappear without the Vatican having to take any action.
To read the documents, go to:
http://documents.nytimes.com/the-document-trail-stephen-kiesle



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TTT

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm


the press has been unscrupulous in its attempt to prove that the Pope was an enabler of sexual abuse. The Pope has never been shown to be the bad guy
He ordered serial rapist Marcial Maciel to “a life of prayer and penitence” instead of turning him over to authorities who would have jailed him as justice demanded. By his good graces Bernard Law is still a cardinal in Rome living like a king and can even vote for popes (and in fact was allowed to vote for Ratzinger), despite incontrovertible proof of his engagement in criminal conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Maciel died without being excommunicated, Law certainly will.
That IS “being the bad guy.” This endless dragging-of-feet, this fetish for impotent church “trials” that apparently go on for about 9 years and in any case involve no real penalty. That is a sin against justice.
I’ve asked this here before and really wasn’t being glib about it: what would happen to any bishop or priest who officiated at a gay wedding or personally performed an abortion? And how long would it take?



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Charles Curtis

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:48 pm


Crunchy Conservatives have given up on Rod, have they HJ?
And you think that this has become a secular progressive blog?
Rod’s every second or third post has a religious theme. My only complaint is that he should blog a bit more about Orthodoxy.
The fact that he is not now openly partisan and doesn’t wear a label that marks him as from your tribe though bugs you, eh HJ? Typical.
Like too many Americans you throw words like a monkey throws poop. Secular, progressive, conservative.. All now close to meaningless in normal American political discourse.
Walker Percy, where have you gone? It’s gone mad down here..



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Charles Curtis

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:49 pm


That last post was a burb, and not supposed to happen.
This is what I meant to post:
I have to second Kellen on this one.
I also would add that all the secular and protestant finger pointing and judgementalism is way too much. The bloody New York Times couldn’t see it’s way clear to condemn Polanski and demand his extradition. On top of that, there isn’t an institution in the country that deals with youth that doesn’t have its own abuse issues.
That includes every protestant church and assembly in the country. The major differance is that most of the protestant churches are 1.) too small to matter to the cognoscenti on the coasts and 2.) too decentralized to produce any paper trail that can be mawed on like this by the media.
Everybody had just be very bloody careful here. Because while the crimes and cover-up here is in fact horrendous, and in many specific instances inexcusable, the institution of the Catholic Church is of huge importance and incalculable value.
Up until now, every case of abuse reported has caused me anguish and made me angry at the bishops. This week – I think it was while watching John Stewart ravage the Church in blasphemous fashion on Tuesday – something snapped.
I’m never going to defend the bishops for what they’ve done. No. But I will defend the Church, and the Faith.
Rod, you know the prophecy of St. Malachi concerning the papacy? He says there are to be two more popes. In the final years the Roman Church will undergo its final persecution.
Until this week, I have always thought that was a bit of a stretch. Now, very suddenly it doesn’t seem so impossible.
All you Protestants and Orthodox out there, know this: the battle for our culture will be won or lost by the Roman Church. When she is attacked and betrayed, all of our fates are at stake. The traitors, criminals and fools who have besmirched the Catholic priesthood and are destroying the cultural and political power of the Roman Church are your enemies, too.
The devil wants us all dead. And the Catholic Church is his primary foe.
While the priesthood of Christ is of central importance to the Faith, the men who bear it are merely servants. The Faith and Church belong to all of us, even to those of you who profess His name yet fail to join us in full sacramental communion. Don’t let clericalism confuse you here. This thing, the Church, she belongs to all of us. To all who hope in Christ.
Know that. Don’t lose sight of it. Before the end, we’re all going to need her protection. Let’s not abandon her now.
What I’m saying is it’s time to go to the ramparts. We need to demand accountability of our priests and bishops. But we also need to keep the Faith. The devil is poaching for us. Don’t forget that the only hope and protection we have is in the Faith.
Indeed, when we keep the Faith, it’s the betrayer who must be afraid.
For the Gates og Hell will not prevail.
It has been so prophesied.



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Quiddity

posted April 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm


The key letter appears to be the one of 19 June 1981 where John Cummmins, Bishop of Oakland, writes:
In August of 1978 [Father Kiesle] was arrested by the police and charged with having taken sexual liberties with at least six young men ranging from eleven to thirteen years of age during the period of November 1977 throught May 1978. When he appeared in court, Father Kiesle pleaded “nolo contendere” to the charges. He received a three year suspended sentence and was to remain on probation for three years. (…) He was also required to register with the police department of any city in which he would be residing.



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Ken

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm


Ken, you are right, it is all about young boys who are at the whim of these sexually morbid gay priests who pray upon young innocent, impressionable boys. Any man, who takes advantage of the innocence and vulnerability of impressionable young males should be castrated, maimed and shot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Priest, gay or straight!!!! Then the world would be a better place like it should be.
I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but it bears no resemblance to what I wrote or what I think. We should be able to consider whether the abusing priests were mostly gay or not without indicting gays and homosexuality in general.



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TTT

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:03 pm


Oh for God’s sake.
-No one is suggesting ABOLISHING the Catholic Church.
-No one is suggesting Catholics INVENTED sexual abuse.
-The only things being “persecuted” were childrens’ orifices. They are the victims. Not the Catholic church, not the Pope, and not you.
The devil wants us all dead. And the Catholic Church is his primary foe
The devil wants all children raped and all justice destroyed, and too many in church hierarchy have been his useful idiots. The enemy isn’t Jon Bleedin’ Stewart.



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Mere Catholic

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm


“He ordered serial rapist Marcial Maciel to “a life of prayer and penitence” instead of turning him over to authorities who would have jailed him as justice demanded”
What in the world are you talking about? Maciel was not being sheltered from the authorities by Benedict. The authorities (whether that was in the US or in Mexico or in any one of the countries in which Maciel was doing his dastardly deeds) were free to pursue any allegations of abuse against Maciel irrespective of what church penalties Benedict imposed on him. This is not an “instead of” issue. If anything, Benedict’s removal of Maciel from active ministry focused more attention than ever on Maciel.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm


How could I forge the most important stock response:
“The real victims aren’t the molested kids. The real victims are the church and the Vatican.”



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Carlo

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm


TTT:
just show me that this kind of story in AP (and then the NYTimes) has ANY relevance to children being raped or not in California. Go ahead!
Show me that the speed of the canonical trial in Rome had anything to do with Kiesle being in active ministry or not. Show me that it affected in any way if Kiesle was prosecuted or jailed or just put on probation by the US courts. Show me that it failed to protect one single child or to bring Kiesle to justice in any way or sense.
Do that and I will believe that the people writing these articles care about children rather than just selling newspaper by dragging the Pope in the sordid story of child abuse by clergy in the US.



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Carlo

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:40 pm

John M.

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm


I have to wonder how any of B16′s defenders here would have reacted if they were in his position as head of the CDF at the time. Would they have chosen laicization, excommunication and criminal prosecution, or would they have chosen to avoid the whole thing for the sake of the “universal church” as if the NEWS of these crimes is more damaging than the crimes themselves?



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Carlo

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm


John M.
avoid WHAT, for goodness sake?
The Kiesle case was COMPLETELY PUBLIC, as much California law allowed it to be. The criminal prosecution HAD ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. The guy had been convicted in California. HE WAS OUT OF MINISTRY. The trial went on and he was laicized two years later.
Forgive me if I am frustrated, but WHAT are you talking about?



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Charles Curtis

posted April 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm


I didn’t say that John Stewart was the problem. I said that this scandal has given him and people like him license to say and do things that thirty years ago would have been unimaginable.
It’s now totally cool to blaspheme what Catholics (and by extension Orthodox and other apostolic churches) hold sacred. I usually agree with John Stewart politically. But the fact that he cannot show even the slightest modicum of respect for what I hold sacred has just made it impossible for me to watch him, anymore.
As a secular Jew, John should have more sensitivity. It doesn’t take much to go from calling a something obscene, to actual violence against it.
I said what I said above, because for someone like me, who sees the world through the prism of his faith, what is happening now may have – how to say this – certain eschatalogical significance. I throw that out there as food for thought. Most of you will probably think that that idea is absurd. Chalk it up to divergent world views.
Look, I condemn the crimes of the bishops. But I have to stand up for the Church, despite their crimes. Most of you are going to condemn the Church wholesale and outright, probably. I’m saying that there’s a baby in that bathwater, and his name is Jesus.
Har. Good line.
Anyway, if my Faith is well founded, all of this crime and sin is a diabolical assault on the Church. I submit that idea to your collective consideration. And merely suggest that if that is true, then it ought to color our response to this scandal.
That’s all I’m saying. Cheers.



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Irenaeus

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm


I will praise Rod Dreher and remain his friend til I die, but here again, I think he’s jumped the gun, just like last time when the NYT ran with the “half-cocked” (Rod’s words) Goodstein piece: accepting something a major news source says, and then having to backtrack in coming days. Which is too bad; having worked in journalism, I wish Rod would read these sorts of pieces with a little bit more suspicion. That said, there has been rot in the Church, and we all should be glad it’s being rooted out in our day. By Benedict, the very man the media and their lawyer sources (as well as miscreants like Weakland) are targeting.
Here’s a balanced, pro-Catholic take from OSV.



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Erin Manning

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm


This seems to me to be a typical case of people who know nothing whatsoever about Church governance pontificating (if you’ll excuse the term) about it.
The Ratzinger letter responds to a specific letter, that of September 13. That quite brief letter asks for any update as to a laicization case, giving the case number, and mentioning that they had been waiting some time to hear about it. The September 13 letter does not mention the crimes of Kiesle or that he had been allowed to act in volunteer ministry.
The letter in reply is also brief, but I think it’s being totally misunderstood. A telling phrase is this: “…and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.”
That has been spun all kinds of ways, including by Rev. George Mockel in the original correspondence who tells the Bishop that the response probably means that the Vatican wants to wait until “Steve” is older, but then tells “Steve” via a letter that the Vatican probably needs more details in order to laicize quickly. We don’t see either response in the collected letters, interestingly enough, and have no way to determine which of those two things Fr. Mockel really thought–e.g., that the Vatican wanted to wait until “Steve” was older, or that the Vatican needed more specific details about “Steve’s” transgressions than had up to then been provided; that latter notion contradicts the official story that the Vatican had already been given all the details and needed nothing further to proceed, by the way.
The problem is this: does the word “dispensation” in that sentence from the R. letter refer to the full dispensation of priestly vows, e.g., laicization–or does the word “dispensation” in that sentence refer to the request that Steve Kiesle be dispensed from the vow of celibacy, which is *not* an automatic part of the laicization process and which Kiesle *was* in fact asking for–in fact, was quite possibly the thing Kiesle was most anxious to secure?
Does anybody think that a declaration from Rome that Kiesle was, as far as Rome was concerned, free to marry in the Church might have been a problem for the scandalized faithful in his diocese, necessitating some caution in investigating before a decision was made? Anybody?
Whatever the case might be, the letter from Ratzinger seems to be pretty clear: the office has received the petition, requests of this type take a considerable amount of time to process (as they did in 1985), there were concerns about Kiesle’s request for “dispensation” and his “young age” (which to me makes the most sense if we’re talking specifically about his request to be dispensed from the vow of celibacy which would leave him free to marry in the Church, but I might be wrong), and then reminding the bishop that it was *his* duty to see to it that Kiesle be looked after during the time the case was being processed–which, to me, reads like a bit of a warning, and one, given that Kiesle apparently continued on in volunteer ministry for some time, that the bishop really ought to have heeded.
Now, I post this knowing quite well that it will be dismissed out of hand by the people who just know that Cardinal Ratzinger was guilty, guilty, guilty of massive cover-ups and fraud and Nazi sympathies, etc. I don’t plan to revisit this thread, and may just need to stop reading here for a while.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:22 pm


I agree with Charles Curtis, and have consistently said that the fate of what remains of Christian civilization in the West depends on the Roman church. That’s why Rome simply must get straight on this issue. Kenneth, ACORN was guilty of the things of which it was accused. What helped destroy it’s credibility was how it would claim that this one thing was isolated, or exaggerated … And then Okeefe would strategically drop another bomb.
I’ve been reading Hunter’s new book, and am now more worried than ever about the long term impact of the Church’s deceit here. The enemy is not the new York times, people.



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Anna

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:23 pm


I was disappointed to see your unfair and misleading headline, Mr. Dreher.
For a bit of perspective, see Fr. Fessio’s article on the Ignatius Press blog: http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/04/lets-get-the-story-straight-defrocking-and-divorce-fr-joseph-fessio-sj.html



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Irenaeus

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm


The NYT has made itself the Church’s enemy, because its editorial board and ownership are largely modern and the Church largely medieval. It’s the same deal with Der Spiegel in Germany.
Here’s Phil Lawler’s refutation of the NYT piece, “Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope.” Open-minded folks might want to give it a read.



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Zach Treed

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm


if some men of the parish had taken Father Pederast out back and beat the hell out of him, and run him out of the parish, a lot of this evil wouldn’t have happened.
Well, maybe. Either way, though, such men of action would have been rounded up and arrested for a hate crime. Assault with intent to gay-bash.
Here it is, The Plain And Obvious Statistical Fact That Dare Not Speak Its Plain And Obvious Truth: A lot of this evil — the massive preponderance of this evil — would not have happened had Catholic seminaries dismissed homosexually oriented men who acted out in any way and at any time during their seminary years.
Oh dear, I’ve gone and said it now, haven’t I? All that’s left for me to do now is set my timer for the Lavender Combox Goon Squad. How long can it be before the first responders show up to slap me silly and disabuse me of my annoying ability to make a plain, obvious and utterly unacceptable observation?



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Julia

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm


Previously, someone else wrote:
“It wasn’t just clericalism. As Philip Jenkins’ book on the crisis, together with the scholarship of Thomas Plante makes clear, until the 1980s nobody, including the psychological/psychiatric community, really understood enough about sexual abuse to know how to deal with it.”
This is not true and Jenkins’ book needs to be updated apparently. Richard Sipe has a timeline on his website that documents how Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, the leader of the “Servants of the Paraclete” (the RC religious order that runs rehabs for troubled priests), warned bishops and popes about the sex abuse problem — beginning in the late 1950s!
He told Pope John XXIII and Paul VI that these priests could not be rehabilitated; that they needed to be laicized immediately and NOT put back into ministry; and that failure to do so would bring scandal to the Church. In fact, he felt so strongly about this that he actually raised $5,000 toward purchasing a small Caribbean island and advocated sending sexually abusing priests there.
My God, could they have had a more clear warning and assessment? And it’s from one of their own! One to whom the bishops sent abusing priests! After reading the info on Sipe’s website, I think that anyone could conclude that the RCC has run out of excuses.
Here is the website: http://www.richardsipe.com
For the info I mentioned, scroll down to the link to “Fr. Fitzgerald Letters.” (It’s about midpage. I can’t link directly to it because it’s a pdf file.) The whole website is eye-opening.



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Charles Curtis

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm


Yeah, Zach. That point’s been made, and is well taken. But it’s also pretty much irrelevant to the scandal.
Which is that the bishops have ordained and then ignored the crimes of those men. The fact that they targeted boys is incidental to the fact that the boys were targeted at all.
It’s that the pederasts and active homosexuals are protected, and often joined by the bishops, that is the scandal..
Pointing out that they’re gay is really just pointing out that Ernst Roehm and his bunch were a little swishy. The primary problem isn’t that they’re queer. It’s that they rape statutory minors.



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Charles Curtis

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm


The line about Roehm was supposed to be a simile. Add “like” there after “just.” And I just realized my mind is in total melt-down, and that now I’m typing nonsense. Like Erin Manning, I think I need to take a vacation from the web.



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thomas tucker

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:50 pm


Once again, this is a bunch of bs directed against the Pope.
The dispensation this guy was seeking was to be dispensed from
the vow of celibacy. Cardinal Ratzinger was NOT trying to shield
a pedophile- read the documents.
If anyone was at fault here, it was the civil authorities for not
putting this guy inprison when they had the chacne, and the
Diocese of Oakland for letting him slip thru the cracks and end up
working as a youth volunteer.
So, once again, a personal vendetta agianst Benedict is illustrated.
Rod, I simply won’t read any more of your posts on this topic. You
yourself appear to be prejudiced.
These stories are not about pedophilia. They are an attempt to smear Benedict, plain and simple.



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Zach Treed

posted April 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Well, right. And if they’d been barred from committing their crimes while in the employ of the Catholic Church, they’d have had to find a more accommodating environment for pursuing their “twinks.” Such as the public school system, for example. The crimes would have been just as awful and widespread but there’d have been little media attention to complicate their lives, much less the lives of their employers.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm


I just read Phil lawler’s piece in which he tries to explain that this is really about nothing, and I honestly don’t follow his logic. The priest was an admitted pederast. In what possible way could “the good of the universal church” have been served br delaying his laicization. It makes no sense to me, and I am not I’ll disposed to Benedict. You staunch defenders really don’t help your cause when you assume — as some of you do — that the only reason anybody would fault card Ratzinger here is bias or bigotry.



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Cecelia

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm


what it will take – to do what ? as far as the sex abuse goes – the new rules are in place – in my diocese a priest is not allowed to touch a child under any circumstances – no pats on the head, nothing. Children in Catholic schools and in catechism classes are now being given mandatory instruction in protection against sexual abuse. Any person who has any contact with a minor in any activity of the Church now gets a criminal background check. I help out with a girl scout troop which meets in the Parish Hall – I and all the other women involved had to get criminal background checks done and our only affiliation is that we use their space. So what more can be done at that level?
So when you ask what will it take – what do you want? You want all the bishops who didn’t get rid of accused pedophiles immediately to be kicked out? I doubt that will happen. You want the Pope to resign? That won’t happen either. But they will die. And after the generation of the hierarchy who were responsible for this all die – then new bishops and popes who were formed in the crucible of this horror – younger men who will watch thousands of Catholics leave the church – they will be in charge of a much smaller church, a church that has been through a huge upheaval,a church greatly chastened (rightly so) and they will – at least as long as the institutional memory of this lasts – be vigilant on this issue.
The Church has been utterly discredited and it will take several generations of extremely good behavior before people stop associating the word “Catholic” with “sex abusers”.
So – exactly what “more” do people want done?



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Stu

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm


At least admit then, Rod, that this case is much more nuanced than simply then Cardinal Ratzinger saying “we don’t want this priest laicized because he is a pedophile and it will cause too much scandal in the Church.” The pieces by Phil Lawler, Fr. Fessio, and the one from the OSV blog paint quite a different picture than the NYT.
Again, this doesn’t mean the Catholic Church didn’t fail to handle the sexual abuse scandal appropriately, that failures weren’t made by the Pope, or that anyone who speaks against the Pope is anti-Catholic. It means that, within its proper context, this might not have been the Pope covering up sexual abuse to protect the reputation of the Church.
It seems that there are two ways people are responding to this story: (1) by lumping the Pope with the worst of the offenders, and (2) by claiming this is all a conspiracy. Isn’t it possible, if not likely, that the truth lies in the middle? That the Pope made mistakes by not taking the problem seriously enough, by not holding enough people’s feet to the fire, but that the media has been making mistakes in their reporting by presenting actions by the Pope as being linked to cover-ups of sexual abuse when there appear to be other explanations (not excuses, but actual plausible explanations)?
Of course, this just underscores the need for the Church to take a much stronger stand in explaining itself. It must admit its failures, explain what happened, and continue to help rectify the situation. Sexual abuse within the Church is the Church’s problem, and blaming the media only hurts the Church’s case. No sane person should be willing to allow the Church to pass the buck. That being said, if the Church has a greater duty to prevent these kinds of abuses and their cover-ups precisely because it is the Church, then the NYT has a higher duty to report the stories accurately because it is supposed to be the paragon of journalism in the world.
In short, shoddy reporting does not let the Church off the hook for its sins, but it doesn’t excuse shoddy reporting either.



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Clive Moebeetie

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:26 pm


Cecelia: “So – exactly what “more” do people want done?”
You made some good points and asked a pretty good question. I think the answer is pretty clear and simple: they want it, the Catholic Church, gone. Period.
They don’t want it “cleaned-up” or “living up to its own standards.” Nothing like that. No, nothing short of its utter extirpation will make them happy. They want it scraped clean off the face of the earth till not a trace is left.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm


Apparently, Ratzinger was the most powerless, impotent person in the Vatican because according to Erin he barely had the power to decide what pencils should be bought. Why have this high position in the Vatican if they aren’t allowed to do anything?
What did he do for all those years, given the fact he isn’t responsible or accountable or capable of making a single decision?



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Zach Treed

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm


In what possible way could “the good of the universal church” have been served br delaying his laicization.
Possibly a hope for the priest’s successful rehabilitation — which in the Church’s eyes carries salvific as well as human-development weight — combined with the wish (unwise in hindsight) that the Church might also avoid exacerbating another problem, the shortage of priests.
For me the bottom line, and the ridiculously under-reported story, is that active gays with a taste for “twinks” and no intent to live chastely got into the priesthood in substantial numbers. Institutional inertia allowed them to stay in and work their destruction far, far too long. Thank God that inertia — part of which owed to unfortunate episcopal naivete/incompetence and part to willful episcopal blindness/corruption — is finally being dealt with. It’s too bad the Lord had to use the hostile might of the mainstream media to turn this Titanic around, but then His ways are not our ways, are they?



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Denis

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm


People misinterpreting this letter seem to be assuming that laicization is a punishment. It is not. A priest who is laicized becomes a lay Catholic in good standing. The issue here was: can a wish to be laicized be sufficient grounds for laicization? The concern was that young men would be jumping into the priesthood without much serious discernment, calculating that they could just request laicization if things didn’t work out.
Think of an analogy: a married rapist petitions the Vatican for an annulment of marriage. The grounds: he wants it. If his petition is denied by the cleric in authority, is that cleric saying that being a rapist is a trivial matter? No. It’s a statement about the seriousness of the indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage.
Phil Lawler has a list of the facts, and they’re pretty straightforward, and were available to any journalist who was willing to do more than block and paste documents sent by the lawyer suing the vatican:
• Was Cardinal Ratzinger responding to the complaints of priestly pedophilia? No. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the future Pontiff headed, did not have jurisdiction for pedophile priests until 2001. The cardinal was weighing a request for laicization of Kiesle.
• Had Oakland’s Bishop John Cummins sought to laicize Kiesle as punishment for his misconduct? No. Kiesle himself asked to be released from the priesthood. The bishop supported the wayward priest’s application.
• Was the request for laicization denied? No. Eventually, in 1987, the Vatican approved Kiesle’s dismissal from the priesthood.
• Did Kiesle abuse children again before he was laicized? To the best of our knowledge, No. The next complaints against him arose in 2002: 15 years after he was dismissed from the priesthood.
• Did Cardinal Ratzinger’s reluctance to make a quick decision mean that Kiesle remained in active ministry? No. Bishop Cummins had the authority to suspend the predator-priest, and in fact he had placed him on an extended leave of absence long before the application for laicization was entered.
• Would quicker laicization have protected children in California? No. Cardinal Ratzinger did not have the power to put Kiesle behind bars. If Kiesle had been defrocked in 1985 instead of 1987, he would have remained at large, thanks to a light sentence from the California courts. As things stood, he remained at large. He was not engaged in parish ministry and had no special access to children.
• Did the Vatican cover up evidence of Kiesle’s predatory behavior? No. The civil courts of California destroyed that evidence after the priest completed a sentence of probation– before the case ever reached Rome.
So to review: This was not a case in which a bishop wanted to discipline his priest and the Vatican official demurred. This was not a case in which a priest remained active in ministry, and the Vatican did nothing to protect the children under his pastoral care. This was not a case in which the Vatican covered up evidence of a priest’s misconduct. This was a case in which a priest asked to be released from his vows, and the Vatican– which had been flooded by such requests throughout the 1970s — wanted to consider all such cases carefully. In short, if you’re looking for evidence of a sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this case is irrelevant.
http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=632



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Mere Catholic

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm


Look, I think that Ratzinger made the wrong decision here re: laicization because I simply think (as Benedict seemingly does now) that pedophilia is not curable by a retreat or some time for reflection and that pedophiles have no place in the priesthood. But to imply (as some have done here) that laicization is some sort of panacea for pederastic behavior, that is simply not the case. Laicization happened in this case in 1987 and Kiesle was released from his vow of celibacy to pursue any adult relationship, yet he is next convicted for abusing a 13 year old girl in 1995, way past his release from the clerical state. So who failed between 1987 and 1995 to keep an eye on Kiesle?



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 3:53 pm


Not that I think it will change your mind, Zach, but the gold-standard, most comprehensive analysis of the scandal done by John Jay College completely rejects your “gays after twinks” theory.
http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/11/18/new-catholic-sex-abuse-findings-gay-priests-not-the-problem



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Julia

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm


Cecelia,
You make good points and probably nothing more can be done at the level on which you write. It’s rather unfair that y’all bear the burden and the responsibility for mismanagement at the top. The problem is the political, power-intoxicated, career-driven hierarchy. Papal elections and appointments take on all of the drama and carefully strategized character of secular politics and, yes, it’s that corrupting, too.
But the big difference between secular politics and RCC politics is the people have no ability to vote the bums out. The prelates are not directly accountable to the people they’re supposed to serve. (They WILL be accountable to God but that gives them far too many years to run amok and do damage.) This has to change. It took a whole lot of victims and unfavorable press to make these leaders even appear to be accountable and yet they still appear to be woefully clueless oftentimes. (With the Maciel expose, Cardinal Sodano and other prelates should be removed. Have they been?)
The people of God must be given a real voice in that church. You should be able to call your own pastors (in concert with the bishop’s office) and you should be able to help choose your own bishops. Christian teaching is clear that one is baptized into the priesthood of believers and that the Holy Spirit speaks and works through the whole church. The lay voices and charisms are not valued sufficiently in the RCC.
How would lay input help remove the cancer? By opening up secretive and political processes. Red caps and mitres should not be handed out as rewards and bishops should not be assigned to a diocese of people by someone in a far-off who doesn’t know them or their needs. Moreover, a bishop should be known and accessible to his (or her!) people, not just some bloke (or gal) who shows up once a year or every other year for confirmations and then hightails it back to his office and posh residence. (Heh, would you believe our Episcopal bishop has to buy his own house? And his car had so many miles on it when he was elected that it was doubtful it would hold up to all of the travel around his new territory so folks chipped in and bought him a new one.) True servant leadership is in order.



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jh

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm


Rod I am shocked you took this story at face value
It appears the issue was if the Priest could be allowed to have voew of celibacy eleimentated. He had already been taken out of ministry.
All cases except if it was found tht Priests had children that had left the ministryy were not allowed to have that vow that they made done away till they were 40. Which happened here
I mean Should Pope Benedict really be that concerned about lfiting a vow so a child abuser can marry!!! WHich is what happened after the lacized.
I think people are getting too hung up on the Lacization or what is called De frocked which is a term I hate because it is misleading.
That in a way is largely a symbolic thing.
People need to pay attention to the issue and I hope people that had some religious background in reporting would learn the terms and what they mean



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Tewkes

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:16 pm


Denis,
After reading this blog entry I was “loaded for bear” to set several thin gs straight – but I see I don’t need to, you have already done so! I hope I have your permission to quote what you have stated in your comment here at 3:44 p.m., it points out very well how ludicrous these volleys being shot at BXVI really are. Thank you for your intelligent synopsis Denis, I truly appreciate the truth being spelled out here.



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Zach Treed

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:33 pm


You’re right, Peter. I find the particular analysis you linked to unpersuasive.
The same political correctness that drove seminaries to accept and ordain gay men for priesthood — “What, us homophobes?” — drives otherwise logical and intelligent people to look at data and see something other than the obvious. Meanwhile the media make up and sustain a diversionary trope with even less basis in reality — “pedophile priests”; never mind that a tiny fraction of victims were pre-pubescent — and the wicked gayification of the West proceeds full steam ahead.
What we know is that 80% of the victims have been male teenagers. I do not think that homosexual attraction causes homosexual predation, but I do think that most of the predators have been active gay men with a preference for younger men. The prison analogy cited in the story you link does not hold up for the simple reason that priests in parishes do not have significantly more access to boys than to girls. For me this reality, combined with that whopping number of 80%, is conclusive.



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SteveM

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm


Benedict had an extensive Q&A interview with German reporters and clergy early in his papacy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We471ja8_7w&feature=related
He should repeat this exercise in his native tongue with the topic being the evolution and resolution of this troubling issue.



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alkali

posted April 10, 2010 at 4:50 pm


@Erin Manning: [D]oes the word “dispensation” in that sentence from the R. letter refer to the full dispensation of priestly vows, e.g., laicization–or does the word “dispensation” in that sentence refer to the request that Steve Kiesle be dispensed from the vow of celibacy, which is *not* an automatic part of the laicization process and which Kiesle *was* in fact asking for …?
The prior paragraph in the R. letter refers to “dispensatio[] ab omnibus oneribus sacerdotalibus,” dispensation from all priestly duties. (That request included a request for dispensation from the vow of celibacy, as referenced in the prior correspondence relating to the request.) If the future Pope’s particular concern was the dispensation from the vow of celibacy, there is no evidence of that in the letter.
Separately, while I know nothing of the particular facts, it seems incredibly unlikely to me that the reason for delay was concern that this priest might quickly find some nice young lady to settle down with, and that the happy couple would demand a big church wedding.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:00 pm


The issue here was: can a wish to be laicized be sufficient grounds for laicization? The concern was that young men would be jumping into the priesthood without much serious discernment, calculating that they could just request laicization if things didn’t work out.
No, that’s not the issue. This is fog. Bishop Cummins’ letter of 1981 to Pope John Paul II makes it very clear that Kiesle was a serial pederast who had already been in court over his crimes. He further makes it clear that Kiesle would not obey legitimate authority. How many more red flags do you need? The bishop wanted this guy cut loose, and rightly so! The pederast wanted out of the priesthood too. And you seriously think that Rome’s sitting on this request for years, and then telling the bishop to wait this one out “for the universal good of the church” is defensible because it might encourage unhappy priests to request laicization. Come on, that doesn’t remotely pass the smell test. This guy was a time bomb, and the written evidence makes it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Vatican — including Cardinal Ratzinger — were more interested in other ecclesial matters than doing what they could to remove a sex criminal from holy orders.
As I’ve said, this doesn’t make Pope Benedict uniquely “evil” or any such thing. This was the way the Church handled these problems in those days. Why is it so important to keep any possible taint of scandal from Benedict in this regard? Most people now recognize that something happened in 2002 to wake him up to the seriousness of the problem, and as John Allen has reported, there is probably nobody at the summit of the church who is better equipped in terms of personal understanding of the problem to force reform. What some of y’all seem to want is to make the case that Benedict woke up to the reality of the problem and is prepared to fix it … but that he had no part in the culture of denial that caused the problem in the first place. How is that possible? If standing by the Pope in all this means having to deny that he ever had anything at all to do with the scandal, then you’re going to make it untenable for anybody to stand by him. The Church doesn’t stand or fall based on whether this or any other Pope is untainted by scandal.



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm


“If standing by the Pope in all this means having to deny that he ever had anything at all to do with the scandal, then you’re going to make it untenable for anybody to stand by him. The Church doesn’t stand or fall based on whether this or any other Pope is untainted by scandal.”
And, quite honestly, the rabid defense of the Pope against any and all accusations starts to make this look more like a cult of personality than a religion based on Jesus.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm


The prison analogy cited in the story you link does not hold up for the simple reason that priests in parishes do not have significantly more access to boys than to girls.
They did when the abuse occurred.
I do not think that homosexual attraction causes homosexual predation, but I do think that most of the predators have been active gay men with a preference for younger men.
Except that a disproportionately low number of the abusers identified as gay. In fact, they insisted they weren’t gay.
Now, we can argue they were in denial about being gay. But the idea that letting openly gay men into the priesthood exacerbated the scandal is a theory that doesn’t comply with evidence or even common sense.



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:07 pm


“Meanwhile the media make up and sustain a diversionary trope with even less basis in reality — “pedophile priests”; never mind that a tiny fraction of victims were pre-pubescent — and the wicked gayification of the West proceeds full steam ahead.”
So, tell me…what sexual orientation were those who covered up the acts of these abusive priests? Were they also gay?



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thomas tucker

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:24 pm


Oh please. Isn’t it apparent that these daily trips down the memory lane of old documents are fishing expeditions against the Pope? If it weren’t so apparent that these are a vendetta against Bendict, then maybe our defense of him wouldn’t seem “rabid.”
And speaking of the smell test, the guy had already been cut loose by his bishop. He didn’t need anyone in Rome to do anything except release him from his priestly vows, which he had already broken in any case.
Again, this had nothing to do with Bendict shielding a pedophile. That is a fact. And if pointing that out seems rabid, then go get your vaccination.



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Denis

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm


Tewkes,
Most of the information in my comment is taken from Phil Lawler’s post at Catholic Culture. The link is:
http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=632
Rod Dreher asks “you seriously think that Rome’s sitting on this request for years, and then telling the bishop to wait this one out ‘for the universal good of the church’ is defensible because it might encourage unhappy priests to request laicization”.
The fear wasn’t that it would encourage unhappy priests to request laicization but that it would encourage men who are considering the priesthood to do so without proper discernment, thinking that they can quickly get laicized if they end up not liking it. I don’t think it was the right decision, but that was their concern.
That he was a “time bomb” and obviously a “serial pederast” is irrelevant. He was already taken out of ministry. For all practical purposes, he was no longer a priest. He had been turned over to the police. The decision to give him a light sentence was made by the state of California, not the Vatican. Laicization would in no way prevent him from assaulting children.
This information is being leaked by lawyers targeting the Vatican. They can’t sue the real party responsible–the state of California, which obviously doesn’t take sexual crimes against boys very seriously–and the Vatican is every shyster trial lawyer’s white whale. Most journalists are quite happy to oblige. It doesn’t take too much work to block and paste from the documents sent by the lawyer. Besides, we all know that the Pope was in the Hitler Youth, and that all Catholic priests are pervs.



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Maria

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm


I’ve tried to avoid commenting but this is getting ridiculous. The problem those of us who defend the Pope have with your position (and the NY TImes et al.) Rod, is twofold.
First: You are assuming and trying to make the case that in this situation Card. Ratzinger was slacking and didn’t care a whit about abused children. Your own headline for this post says as much. But the facts (reiterated ad infinitum) belie that. Card. Ratzinger had no jurisdiction over abuse situations until 2001. And it has been shown that Kiesle was already removed from ministry. Really, why is it such a horrid scandal to try to slow a steady stream of priests out of the priesthood? Especially at a time when prevailing thought was that this guy might be “cured”? Oh, and as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was supposed to look out for the “universal good of the church.” It’s part of the job description.
Second: I am willing to acknowledge that there may be situations where Benedict screwed up (none found yet, by the way) but that does not prove malicious intent. We are judging a situation from 25 – 30 years ago with the standards of today. Never a great way to analyze history. Ok so if you want to posit that: maybe he messed up somewhere. So what. He hasn’t changed? He hasn’t done anything to reverse the process? You haven’t ever screwed up? I haven’t?
As you yourself say, “there is probably nobody at the summit of the church who is better equipped in terms of personal understanding of the problem to force reform. What some of y’all seem to want is to make the case that Benedict woke up to the reality of the problem and is prepared to fix it … ” Right. We are happy to have him do so.
“The Church doesn’t stand or fall based on whether this or any other Pope is untainted by scandal.”
Again right. We are a church of sinners and expect no one to be perfectly free from taint.
However, the AP, the NY Times are relentlessly pursuing the pope, trying to find a “smoking gun.” To what end? To decimate his credibility so that he CAN’T govern the church? So that he is unable to continue to administer the reforms? We all know he has done more than anyone to change the interior workings in the church as it handles sexual abuse. But the Times doesn’t print that info. Because they don’t care. Looking for the elusive piece of paper that proves he “might” have done something 25 years ago helps no one.
I listened to an NPR reporter last evening on All Things Considered as she broke this story. She was absolutely breathless. You could hear the glee in her voice. She was just so happy to report, “I saw his signature with my own eyes!”
Oh for pete’s sake.
So yeah, color me irritatd with the media reporting on anything that has to do with Benedict and the sexual abuse crisis.



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Maria

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm


OK. Thomas Tucker said everything I wanted to say but more succinctly. Thank you, Mr. T.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 10, 2010 at 5:56 pm


Denis, again, that makes no sense to me. The man was a convicted child molester whose bishop wanted him out of the priesthood, and who wanted out of the priesthood himself. But the Vatican sat on the request for years, and then turned it down for a period, “for the universal good of the church.” I cannot imagine any “good of the Church” served by this decision. I guess we’ll just have to disagree here. Anyway, here’s the Catholic writer Mighty Favog’s take on it. I liked this point of his:
And Pope Benedict XVI was part of that culture. He bought into that culture. To the extent that he no longer buys into that culture, it is a relatively recent development in his long priestly vocation.
That seems clear, and yet the Vatican — and many Catholics around the world — cannot deal with that, almost as if admitting that the pope is human, possessing human frailties and committing human sins, would cause the whole edifice of the Catholic Church to come tumbling down.
I believe Ratzinger is — or is at least disposed to be — part of the solution now. But he was part of the problem before, as I think today’s news indicates. Again, why does that surprise anybody?



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Zach Treed

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm


the idea that letting openly gay men into the priesthood exacerbated the scandal is a theory that doesn’t comply with evidence or even common sense.
On the contrary. It is a theory that is manifestly consistent with the evidence. Predatory heterosexual men have a strong preference for younger women over women of their own age or older; this is so widely and historically established it needs no exposition. Do you expect me to believe that the predators who singled out male teenagers in Catholic quarters were heterosexual, and that they selected their sexual quarry — against their true carnal desires for females to the tune of 80% — out of mere convenience? You and I have a different sense of what constitutes common sense, Peter.
what sexual orientation were those who covered up the acts of these abusive priests? Were they also gay?
Some were, some weren’t. What we can say for certain is that some of the bishops who mishandled abuse complaints did so out of incompetence and naivete, while others acted willfully and corruptly. The latter subgroup is probably much smaller than the former, based on what we now know about the deference, unwise in hindsight, that hopeful and pastoral bishops gave to psychologists touting treatment prior to 2002. Despite their smaller numbers, the willfully corrupt are, for obvious reasons, a more virulent and destructive cancer in the Church. Their number included former Milwaukee Abp. Rembert Weakland, who is indeed gay.



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm


Denis: “Laicization would in no way prevent him from assaulting children.”
Laicization would terminate any formal relationship the abuser had as a priest of the church. Imagine if you will a school keeping an abusive teacher on the payroll after a conviction (even a minor slap on the wrist like in this instance), even if that teacher were relieved of classroom duties. Add to this the uproar if the building administrator were calling for the teacher’s dismissal.
No, in this case it would seem that the proper course of action would be to laicize the priest, and the reasoning would be the same as that for firing a teacher who had been convicted of abuse.
Neither prevents the abuser from continuing to assault children. But it insures that the abuser does not do it under the cover of employment by an agency struggling to shed its image of being soft on abuse.



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Simon

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:38 pm


This is utter nonsense. There was no issue here of protecting children or covering anything up. Nor was this a disciplinary proceeding, since the CDF did not have jurisdiction over abuse cases before 2001.
It was a request for laicization by a priest who had already been arrested and convicted of sexual molestation of minors. Because at that time laicization requests were not automatically granted to priests under 40 (for reasons that had nothing to do with sexual abuse issues) Cardinal Ratzinger signed what appears to be a Latin FORM LETTER saying his office needed time to look into it. Within two years the laicization was issued.
The serious question raised by this story for those who actually care about children is why this priest was allowed to continue working with kids in some sort of “volunteer” capacity while this case was pending. That has nothing to do with Rome or Cardinal Ratzinger, but it’s a question the diocese of Oakland ought to answer.



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Cecelia

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:58 pm


what it will take – to do what ? as far as the sex abuse goes – the new rules are in place – in my diocese a priest is not allowed to touch a child under any circumstances – no pats on the head, nothing. Children in Catholic schools and in catechism classes are now being given mandatory instruction in protection against sexual abuse. Any person who has any contact with a minor in any activity of the Church now gets a criminal background check. I help out with a girl scout troop which meets in the Parish Hall – I and all the other women involved had to get criminal background checks done and our only affiliation is that we use their space. So what more can be done at that level?
So when you ask what will it take – what do you want? You want all the bishops who didn’t get rid of accused pedophiles immediately to be kicked out? I doubt that will happen. You want the Pope to resign? That won’t happen either. But they will die. And after the generation of the hierarchy who were responsible for this all die – then new bishops and popes who were formed in the crucible of this horror – younger men who will watch thousands of Catholics leave the church – they will be in charge of a much smaller church, a church that has been through a huge upheaval,a church greatly chastened (rightly so) and they will – at least as long as the institutional memory of this lasts – be vigilant on this issue.
The Church has been utterly discredited and it will take several generations of extremely good behavior before people stop associating the word “Catholic” with “sex abusers”.
So – exactly what “more” do people want done?



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Cecelia

posted April 10, 2010 at 6:58 pm


pardon the repet post – captcha problem
I ask myself – why all these old cases now suddenly being revealed again? And of course – these old cases being brought up again have in common what some would call the “smoking gun” – they appear to implicate the Pope (I say implicate cause I do not know everything about these cases, I am not a lawyer and I suspect even Pope’s are innocent til proven guilty). So what is this all about?
What it is all about – is that we have here an attorney who represented people who were victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. He successfully won a series of large awards (good for him) for his clients. He – legally – received 30% of all those awards. However – what has now happened is that there ain’t no more money to be got out of the US diocese. Some have gone bankrupt, the courts are not permitting lawyers to go after parishes that had no involvement, so no money there. So now it is go after the really deep pockets time – sue the Vatican, specifically, sue the Pope. Problem is the Vatican is a sovereign state and the Pope is the head of a sovereign state hence no suing. Except there might be some squishiness around this – maybe the Pope can be sued. So this attorney now leaks court documents from his cases to newspapers – who write up stories and people get angry with the Pope – the court of public opinion is against the Pope and now there is a desire to see him sued – which may sway those who are in charge of deciding if he can be sued or not.
Now maybe this guy is right – maybe the best way to exorcise this evil from the Church is to sue the heck out of them. Maybe the Pope should be held accountable. Maybe having to sell the Pieta and the Sistine Chapel to pay a huge settlement will teach them a lesson. I don’t know – but I do know that the NYT and any other newspaper, journalist, or blogger who reports on this should also be reporting on the motives behind this. We should be able to read in the NYT and everyplace else this is being reported that they are getting this info from an attorney who wants to sue the Vatican and that he needs public opinion to be with him so as to persuade the World Court to let him sue. That seems like fair and balanced reporting to me.
I think the press is not reporting this well but that does not excuse the wrongdoing that occurred. I don’t think the presence of gays among those who abused excuses the Church. I don’t think that abuse occurs in all of our other institutions excuses the Church. I don’t think that because some of the outrage being expressed is informed by resentments against the Church excuses the Church. I think the RC Church needs to continue to cut the rot out. I also think the reporting on this is lousy – why does the NYT let this attorney manipulate them into helping him play his card? Report the whole story, not just what this lawyer wants you to report.
One other thing – isn’t anyone wondering why the heck the California courts gave this guy two years probation? What is with their laws that they treat a obviously dangerous pedophile in such an ineffective way? I’ve said this before – everyone is so concerned about kids – then why are you going on and on over laicization – which actually ends up releasing the pedophile into the regular population so he can keep on doing his evil thing? What is with the courts that they either won’t prosecute or when they do – they give such paltry ineffective sentences? Compared to the courts – the “send em to the monastery” thing is looking good – at least they can’t get their hands on kids in a monastery.



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BAM

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm


Erin:
Have you ever thought of a career in PR?
You’d be fabulous!!!!



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Simon

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm


Jason’s post exemplifies the stupidity surrounding this story.
This case didn’t involve any sort of cover up. And it didn’t involve enabling the abuser to commit more crimes. The priest in question had already been tried and convicted in California court, and removed from ministry by the Oakland diocese. What we are dealing with is the abuser’s request to be dispensed from his vows and allowed to assume the status of layman within the Church. That request was of course granted, but only after the normal delay then required for dispensations of priests under 40. The delay had no impact on the abuser’s ability to function as a priest, which had already been eliminated. And it didn’t cause anything to be concealed from the laity or the public at large.
But none of those facts will stop the Jasons of this world from screeching that this involved some sort of cover up that made it possible for kids to be abused. Abuse of minors is an intolerable outrage, and cover ups that enabled offenders to repeat are worse. But this series of bogus reports about Cardinal Ratzinger aren’t about any of that. They are about playing on hysteria and ignorance in order to achieve an unjust agenda. Now we see how the Amiraults were wrongly convicted.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm


Predatory heterosexual men have a strong preference for younger women over women of their own age or older; this is so widely and historically established it needs no exposition.
Except in prison, the military, boys schools, fraternities, and the Catholic Church where heterosexual men routinely prey on other men and boys.



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Peter

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm


The danger in your thinking, Zach, is that you are more worried about the gay couple next door then the married guy who coaches your kid’s soccer team and works as a youth minister. He’s much more likely to be the child predator.



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:44 pm


“So what is this all about?”
- It’s about the slow dribble of documents surrounding the cover-up that are now, finally, coming out thanks to the pressure of victims’ attorneys.
- It’s about the Church’s continued resistance to releasing these documents that insures that when a new batch are released they make the front page of the newspaper.
- It’s about the continued revelation of instances of abuse in country after country after country around the world. Europe, Africa, South America, Central America, Australia, New Zealand…the list continues to grow.
- It’s about the once proffered myths that this was “a few bad apples” or “an American problem” or “a Northern Hemisphere problem” being blown out of the water with subsequent revelations of abuse, bringing up the legitimate question of how high up in the organization did the cover-up go.
- And, if we accept the words of 1 Timothy 5:20 as truly being God’s word, it may just well be about God taking His Holy Church to the woodshed in a very public, very thorough manner for His name’s sake.



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hlvanburen

posted April 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm


In recent years we have seen the Catholic Church take some very public stands regarding politicians in our nation. Bishops issuing statements that votes in favor of certain issues should result in the withholding of the Eucharist, the most holy element of the Mass, from those politicians casting the votes.
Not long after this comes revelations that sordid sexual abuses by Catholic priests took place in other countries. A scathing report is issued about the Irish atrocities. Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, India, and several South/Central American nations are touched by this scandal.
And most recently comes the release of old documents from long-fought cases that refocuses attention on the US Church, its bishops, and begins to bring into question the actions of the Vatican itself.
Could it be that God is trying to remind His Church that His Body should not be used as a tool in US politics?



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stu

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:10 pm


“It’s about the once proffered myths that this was “a few bad apples” or “an American problem” or “a Northern Hemisphere problem” being blown out of the water with subsequent revelations of abuse, bringing up the legitimate question of how high up in the organization did the cover-up go.”
I agree that this is part of the impetus for revealing these documents. BUT, the articles published in regards to the Wisconsin case and this case fail to mention very pertinent details. The question of how high the cover up went is legitimate and important. I fail to see how the revelation that forms the basis for this blog post answers that question though. If the Pope covered up abuse or allowed abuse to go on, everyone should know. That does not appear to be the case.
Rod insinuates that standing by the Pope in this case is refusing to admit that he had any role in the decades long scandal, but that is not the point. Speaking for myself, I am defending the Pope here because the media which purports to be delivering the truth about goings on in the Church is, at best, delivering half-sided truths. The NYT article on the latest allegation contains simply a pithy quote from Cardinal Lombardi where he states that he will not comment on out of context statements from the Pope. Well, it appears that the Vatican has at least a legitimate argument that the Pope’s comments were taken out of context in that they were dealing only with a priest who had already had been removed from the ministry, who had already been dealt with by law enforcement, and who was only concerned with being able to give up his vow of celibacy. Whether or not the Pope should have granted that request has little to do with child sexual abuse. None of that was adequately explained in the article. I think that was important information. I would never say that the Pope’s hands are completely clean, and I think the Vatican should be more forthright in disclosing details about past abuse cases, but that doesn’t mean the NYT shouldn’t also be more forthright in disclosing details that, at the very least, demonstrate that the story is not so black and white.



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BobSF

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm


jh had some good advice:
People need to pay attention to the issue and I hope people that had some religious background in reporting would learn the terms and what they mean
I would add that people should also stop throwing around terms they appear to know nothing about, like “twinks”. I actually think Zach does know the meaning and is just engaged in some deceptive word play. Note his use of the ambiguous word “teenager” when he starts throwing around statistics. A “twink” is a young man or late teen boy, sort of what I gather heterosexuals refer to as “jail bait”. According to the John Jay study, only about 15% of the abuse victims (mostly male and some female) fell into the age range from 16 up and in those cases, serial abuse of dozens or hundreds did not occur.
The word “teenager” covers 13-19, such a broad range that is covers a few prepubescent late bloomers all the way to voting-age young adults. It is largely useless in this discussion.
I would ask people to reflect for a moment before tossing out the word “gay” to refer to the abusers. How many were out-of-the-closet gay men? Virtually none. How many have been shown to have sexual interest in adult men? Very, very few. Adult women? Also very few, and some of those women, I would think, were to serve as cover.
GAY men have as much interest in little boys as straight men have in little girls, as much interest in teenagers as straight men have in teenagers. This is to say, pretty much none. If any of the guys on here who so blithely blame gay men would like to offer up their own contradictory experience of interest in the under-aged, feel free.
As to openly gay seminarians today, I do understand that some straight seminarians might feel uncomfortable with them, both personally and because of the Church’s views on homosexuality, but I really do not understand how anyone thinks having openly gay seminarians or ones who are not desperately hiding their homosexuality leads to the abuse of children. Those men may fail to stay celibate — as their heterosexual brothers may also fail — but they will do so with other MEN, not boys.



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NY Barrister

posted April 10, 2010 at 8:26 pm


Mr. Dreher, I’m once again surprised that we’re on the same page on this issue. The defenses offered on Benedict’s behalf are those I would argue in a lawyerly way. You often can win cases by picking apart small details in the other side’s case and creating doubt in the jury’s mind even if your client really is no saint. But your corporate client sometimes suffers a PR setback in the process.
Your posting must have caused a red alert in the blogosphere of the RC right, oops, “orthodox” as they prefer, as they’re out in force. But comparing the RCC clergy to U.S. swim coaches?? Is that the newest line of argument? If I’m representing the Vatican, I’d drop that silly line immediately. But then what do I know, since according to some of you just representing clients makes you a “shyster”. Truth time comes when the LC/RC Maciel crowd get a wrist slap instead of suppression. I can’t wait for the RC “orthodox” to explain/justify that though I have no doubt they will attempt it.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm


It bothers me that priests are now allowed no physical contact whatsoever with children, not even a pat on the head. I would think even a hug would be appropriate sometimes. That is one of the saddest prices of this scandal. After all, there are real, genuine, appropriate, almost necessary physical affections between children and adults. They are a normal part of growing up, and of caring for children.
After the 9/11 hijackings, someone attempted to define evil as “perversion of purpose.” That seems to fit rather well here. If we abandon wholesome affections which have a good purpose, because they have at times and places, and by certain persons, been perverted, we have lost a great deal. I have been matched with a little brother for over three years now, I did go through a criminal background check, and a check of references of people whose children I had at one time or another helped care for. I do leave it to my little brother to initiate hugs or similar physical contact, but he wants that reassurance constantly. I don’t doubt that some pedophiles, priests or not, take advantage of that searching for affection or simply reassurance, but because it is abused does not mean we can afford to abandon children who seek reassurance and affection.
Yes, Roman Catholic priests, those who truly care for their parish, including the children, who are not preying upon the innocent, are among those whom children might want a hug from now and then.
Generally, I think what Rod said makes a great deal of sense. Likewise Dan. I believe there is a fundamental flaw in the clericalism and the devotion to the privilege and power of an institution that made this so much worse than “all the various instances of pedophilia everywhere.”
However, Erin Manning usually gives me pause, and she had done so again. The kind of nuances and legalisms she raises have a great deal to do with why things are done in the ordinary course of business, in a court, in a bureaucracy, and sometimes for good reason. Due process does protect the guilty as well as the innocent. However, if that is all that really happened, Benedict could dispell all the gloom and horror by one forthright response. Instead, he is evasive, and mutters about those who would attack the church.
However eager many reporters may be to embarrass the Roman church, they would be preaching to the choir (pun intentional) if the church were being forthright with those who have reason to love or respect it.
As for Charles Curtis’s pomposity, I’m sorry, your church is just one of the many attempts to channel Christianity into an institutional form. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome arose from the deal various bishops cut with the Roman Empire, and the absence of any other authority in Rome when the seat of empire moved to Byzantium. It is nowhere in the Gospels, and don’t quote me that vague reference to Simon the Hooligan as having anything to do with Rome. Protestants, Coptics, Orthodox, and any number of other variants will get along just fine if (unlikely though that may be), the Vatican collapses. In fact, millions of practicing Roman Cathloics will practice more or less the same liturgy, based on precisely the same Gospel, with or without the Curia, the College of Cardinals, or even the availability of bishops. The devil, that proud spirit, cannot bear to be mocked, and it is our duty to laugh at him, not to allow fear of him to motivate us to give corruption a break out of despair that nothing else stands between us and his puerile self. There is much about the Catholic Church I would miss, but much of what I would miss will not disappear with its current dynasty of princes. God is greater than that.



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Simon

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm


This isn’t picking apart a few details of a case. It’s the entire premise of the case.
There was no cover up by anyone in the California story. Nobody advocated keeping this creep in active ministry, from which he had already been removed. Cardinal Ratzinger’s routine letter in 1985 didn’t affect any of that, and didn’t cause children or anyone else to be exposed to abuse.
So the problem, Barrister, is that you’ve failed to make a prima facie case. And to avert dismissal you are relying on emotional and prejudicial pleas of cover up and endangerment of children, which have nothing to do with this non-story or with the earlier bogus Ratzinger stories from Arizona and Wisconsin.



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Steve Kellmeyer

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm


As even Newsweek and the New York Times now admits, Catholic priests abuse children at only one-fourth or one-fifth the general population.
If reporting were accurate, there would be ten stories about Protestant or rabbinic sexual abuse for every one story about a Catholic priests.
There would be 400 stories of public school employees sexually abusing children for every one story about a Catholic priest.
There would be tens of thousands of stories of adult Muslim men “marrying” and having sex with underage girls as young as nine, ten and eleven for every one report about a Catholic priest.
The MSM – including Rod Dreher – has failed to report on it.
Clearly, there’s a cover-up going on here.
This latest revelation does not surprise me, and it should not surprise anybody who has paid the slightest attention to this scandal in this decade. They all did it — by which I mean, virtually the entire Main Stream Media is complicit to a greater or lesser degree in shuffling the stories around, covering them up, or refusing to cover them at all.
Why does the MSM choose to report only on Catholic children being abused, and not on Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Jewish or Muslim children, even though we know those rates of abuse are much higher than among Catholics?
This complicity, this conspiracy of silence within the MSM points to the filth that lives at the top of the journalistic hierarchy, and permeates every branch.
I would be very surprised indeed if this is the only thing to come out to link Rod Dreher to this sort of thing. You should expect more of it. Again, if anybody thinks Rod Dreher should resign, they should sober up and understand that there is almost certainly nobody under him or over him who is untainted by this thing. This was the way the MSM hierarchy operated for a very long time.
This current reporter doesn’t seem to have been enlightened about the scope of this catastrophe. But he is not doing enough to make it right. What is it going to take?



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Roland de Chanson

posted April 10, 2010 at 9:49 pm


I am very disappointed in Rod. I have defended him on other forums but I feel besmirched in having done so. He should at least have changed the goddam title of the post. But he has not. Sensationalism sells.



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Your Name

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm


Why be Orthodox if you recognise, as Rod Dreher does here, that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is ‘THE hierarchy’?



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BobSF

posted April 10, 2010 at 10:52 pm


It bothers me that priests are now allowed no physical contact whatsoever with children, not even a pat on the head. I would think even a hug would be appropriate sometimes. That is one of the saddest prices of this scandal. After all, there are real, genuine, appropriate, almost necessary physical affections between children and adults. They are a normal part of growing up, and of caring for children.
Hear, hear!



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eduardo montez

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm


It may be true that Benedict is not guilty as charged. But the accusation is believed by many because of dozens of cases in the last decade where the church hotly denied accusations that latter turned out to be true.
It is also believed because, while the Church is getting pretty good lately at reporting abuse to the police and investigating accused priests, it still is very lax about the higher-ups. Bernard Law is the poster child here, but what member of the hierarchy has suffered any real punishment for in effect facilitating child abuse by hiding it and shuffling molester priests from one unsuspecting parish to another?
The Church’s defenders need to think of something better than blaming everything on others. I am guessing that we are only in the middle of the world-wide scandal, and shoes are going to keep droping for another decade or two.



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Denis

posted April 10, 2010 at 11:43 pm


I’ve read with interest Rod’s account of his experiences with Orthodoxy, and I believe him to have a genuine affection for Pope Benedict XVI, and for the Catholic Church. I don’t think that he is motivated here by a desire to bash the Pope or Catholicism.
He is being a bit credulous and uncritical with this story, which I find surprising. This is a case in which the Church did the right thing on the important issues. The transgressor was removed from ministry and handed over to the authorities. He was, at the time of the laicization request, in no position to do harm to children. The laicization question was incidental to the issue of the safety of children. In fact, it was after he had been laicized that he harmed another child.
So why is this letter of any interest to anyone? Because it was signed “Ratzinger.” No other reason. This doc was dumped on a Friday so the allegation couldn’t be challenged in any serious way for a few days. By then the PR damage will have been done.



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BobSF

posted April 11, 2010 at 12:26 am


This issue is so complicated and the data is so lacking that I really try to avoid jumping to any conclusions about, well, almost any aspect of it. But I have to point out something about the rationalization that “the public schools are even worse!” claim some use. First of all, one should look long and hard at what is classified as “abuse” in the reports on the public schools. They use a remarkably low standard, including “harassing speech”.
But, let’s for a moment pretend that the abuse recorded were of as serious a nature as that reported in the Catholic scandal studies. One might come to the same conclusion Skell Meyer does and his “A difference of 2000 percent” might make sense. It certainly gets used as “proof” in a lot of discussions, including some by folks who really, really ought to think harder about it before making claims on national TV.
The problem is the size of the K-12 Catholic school population vis-a-vis the K-12 public school population. The public schools are about 2100 percent larger, so the 2000% difference cited as “proof” of lesser incidence actually “proves” the opposite.



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BobSF

posted April 11, 2010 at 12:27 am


Ooops, left off the link for comparative enrollment.
http://www.edreform.com/Fast_Facts/K12_Facts/#ENROLLMENT



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hlvanburen

posted April 11, 2010 at 12:55 am


“There would be 400 stories of public school employees sexually abusing children for every one story about a Catholic priest.”
There no doubt would be, if…
- a pattern could be demonstrated of moving abusive teachers from district to district, with the knowledge and consent of adminstrators at the district, state and national level,
- the same pattern could be found in as many as ten nations, all connected to one hierarchy,
- the districts, on the orders of higher-ups, swore students to secrecy,
- a coordinated effort of obfuscation and obstruction were discovered to have been directed at the national level, or perhaps at a global level.
If we could show this kind of situation happening in the public schools, there would no doubt have been miles of newsprint published about it.
Instead, because there is no national hierarchy overseeing all school districts in the nation, and because there is no pattern demonstrated of principals and superintendents moving abusers from district to district to keep the troublemakers out of harm’s way, there is no direct comparison to what we have seen in the unraveling of this story with the Catholic Church.
Abuse by teachers makes local and state news, and sometimes regional or national news in the more spectacular cases. Why? Because the responsibility for dealing with these abusers is with the local school district and, in some cases, with the state department of education. There is no Council for the Doctrine of the Curriculum sitting in some far-off locale with authority to review abuse allegations against a teacher in Peoria, IL. There is no Educational Pontiff, no College of Educational Cardinals providing world-wide leadership to all school districts in the world.
If you believe the Bible to be the Word of God, then you have two positions available to you:
1) This situation is an attack from the devil, and no matter how bad it gets the Church will not fall from it. The promise Jesus made regarding his church, if accepted as true, should be all of the promise you need to know that the Church will survive whatever is thrown at it by the devil. And, as we are told by the Bible, the devil does not play fair.
2) This situation is a reprimand from God to a wayward Church and its leadership. In Revelation, in the letters to the churches, we are told that Jesus has the power to “remove the lampstand” of any given church from its place. In short, Jesus has the power to shut down any church that strays from the mission he set before them. Dealing with this requires introspection and contrition, and ultimately a return to that mission.
Now, if you don’t really believe that the Bible is truthful when it speaks of these things, then you will complain about how the Church is being treated unfairly (where in the Bible is fair treatment promised), how it is no worse, and perhaps somewhat better than the other entities in our society (where in the Bible is that the standard for the church) and how this is all a plan to go after the Pope (where in the Bible is a human leader of a church given more prominence than the church itself).
And finally, frustrated at how the stories just seem to keep coming, and how your arguments seem to have absolutely no effect on slowing down the revelations, you turn to anger and bitterness…the very things that the Bible says you are not to do.
As people who claim to believe the Bible, believe the teachings of the Church, and believe in the hope of the resurrection, you undoubtedly know that Christians have faced far worse than this in the past. Christians have been rounded up and persecuted in many ways throughout history. Christians were fed to lions, crucified, burned, run through with the sword, keel-hauled, poisoned, shot, starved, beaten, and much, much worse for their faith. For years I have heard how the martyrs of the past are to be the inspiration for believers today as they face an uncertain future.
The Catholic Church messed up. As individuals, abusive priests terrorized the lives of young people put into their ministerial care. They used the power, the very belief of these young people, to get them to do horrid things.
And when discovered, the bishops, the supervisors of these priests, did not put the safety of these young people first. Instead, they acted to protect the Church from scandal and to contain the damage by moving the abuser to another innocent parish and pressuring/paying off the victims to keep quiet.
And not just in the US, but apparently worldwide this behavior was replicated, in one way or another, with equally tragic consequences.
Then, as more documents become available, we see signs that lead people both within and outside of the Church to begin asking the question of how the leadership of the Church, those people in the Vatican, dealt with this matter.
My goodness, folks! The nation of Israel got impatient waiting for Moses and decided to worship a golden idol, and they got to wander the desert for forty years until an entire generation had died off! Do you not believe that the God who did this to Israel, his chosen people, would not also punish YOU, the Church founded by the God the Son, for what happened to those poor, innocent victims?
Or is the problem that you really, deep down, do not believe that God actually punished Israel, or that the Church could actually be removed by the hand of God himself from this earth for its actions? Do you really not believe that the punishments laid out in the Bible for disobedience might come down upon you, you priest, your Bishop, your Archbishop, your Cardinal, or your Pope? Do you think those punishments only apply to “the other guy” who votes to support abortion rights or pushes to see same-sex marriages legalized? Do you think that the hand of an angry God would only smite those who preach heresy, or who do not believe?
If that be the case, then you really do not believe your Bible. Nor do you believe this historical records of your own Church, or of Christianity.
Your whining and complaining, and turning on anyone who would dare question your preconceived notions of what is and is not real in this Scandal speak far louder about where your real faith lies than any of the fine sermons or songs that will be heard tomorrow morning in your church sanctuaries.
But then, I’m just a godless unbeliever bound for hell. What do I know?



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Richard Bottoms

posted April 11, 2010 at 1:47 am


I regularly fantasize about tracking down the man who molested me and the creep at the YMCA pool who ended any interest I had in learning to swim and cutting off their privates.
With any luck they’re long dead and in Hell. As a black man I have no faith that the ultimate penalty will be applied properly to anyone, so I’ll settle for the state dropping these men in a hole forever.
Sue the Catholic Church, get every single name and start arresting them all, including those who covered this mess up.



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Your Name

posted April 11, 2010 at 1:51 am


“If reporting were accurate, there would be ten stories about Protestant or rabbinic sexual abuse for every one story about a Catholic priests.”
The important difference you church defenders keep (intentionally?) overlooking is that these other “groups” are not monolithic in the way of the Catholic church – they are not part of a single tightly structured hierarchy that is complicit in the abuse due to their prioritization of self-protection over defense of the victims. That is the heart of the issue and the huge failing of the Catholic church. All groups have bad people – but they don’t all have a single hierarchy helping cover up for them.



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Michael C

posted April 11, 2010 at 7:39 am


Excellent post at 12.55 hlvanburen.
Maybe it is time for some people to stop worshiping their Pope, and start worshiping their God.
If we have learned anything over the centuries, it is that religion, of any stripe, has been misused to commit any number of atrocities.
I honestly cannot see how we would be worse of if the whole monstrous edifice came tumbling down.



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Simon

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:42 am


Nobody worships the Pope, nor does our faith depend on his virtue or sound judgment. We do, however, value the truth, which was ill served by the uncritical acceptance of his non-story by the AP, NYT, and NPR. And really ill served by the headline of this post, which is worthy of Joe Goebbels.
As the Church’s critics on this thread are forced shift their argument away from the facts of this case and to the “big picture” of covering up abuse and moving predators from place to place–which outrages everyone-I take this as concession that the Kiesle story does not involve any of those things. We all know there were many cases of abuse that many in the hierarchy believed should be kept quiet, and that this policy actually facilitated recidivism. That is old news, appalling as it is. The recent series of stories about these old cases have been deemed newsworthy only because the name “Ratzinger” appears. It does matter, therefore, to anyone with the slightest regard for truth, that the stories fail to include any evidence of Ratzinger acting improperly, much less participating in cover ups or endangering children.



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Carlo

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:46 am


Michael C.
there you go again: everything is guilty, time for the final solution. Are you a fan of Fr. Cantalamessa?



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Carlo

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:51 am


Of course I meant “everybody.”
Also you Richard Bottoms: “arrest them all.” Am I included?
A question for a diferent thread: do you think that if the people who abused you were rotting in hell, that would really heal the injustice? I somehow doubt it. I was reading this:
http://www.clonline.org/articoli/eng/JC_LaRep040410_eng.htm
and I think he is just right.



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Michael C

posted April 11, 2010 at 9:40 am


I did what I thought was right years ago.
I left, and took my money with me. But that was just me.
I do think if you remain Catholic and do nothing about the cover up, then you are either in denial or guilty by association, but like hlvanburen, that is just what I think, and what do I know, I am just an ex-catholic, who is incensed that my childhood was stolen by these b……ds



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James

posted April 11, 2010 at 9:55 am


Thi sarticle should be read and considered by every Catholic and non-Catholic as they jump to any conclusions about Pope Benedict XVI:
(Another Scoop Against The Holy Father Refuted)
http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/04/another-scoop-against-the-holy-father-refuted/



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 10:31 am


So, we have investigating Bendict for waiting to release this guy from his priestly vows, but not investigating why a judge gave him three years probation for tying up and molesting kids, Are you serious?
That is being penny wise and pound foolish.



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steve2

posted April 11, 2010 at 10:44 am


Which church does the judge run?
Steve



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Rod Dreher

posted April 11, 2010 at 11:31 am


And really ill served by the headline of this post, which is worthy of Joe Goebbels.
Godwin’s Law strikes again! I write a headline reflecting a fact that I still have not seen refuted — that Cardinal Ratzinger’s directive to Bishop Cummins instructed him as follows (from the letter):
This court, although it regards the arguments presented in favor of removal in this case to be of grave significance, nevertheless deems it necessary to consider the good of the Universal Church together with that of the petitioner, and it is also unable to make light of the detriment that granting the dispensation can provoke with the community of Christ’s faithful, particularly regarding the young age of the petitioner.
It is necessary for this Congregation to submit incidents of this sort to very careful consideration, which necessitates a longer period of time.
In the meantime your Excellency must not fail to provide the petitioner with as much paternal care as possible and in addition to explain to same the rationale of this court, which is accustomed to proceed keeping the common good especially before its eyes.
… my headline reflected that Cardinal Ratzinger, writing for the court, and knowing that they were dealing with a pedophile, urged not moving too fast in canning this cretin. In what sense is my headline inaccurate? In what sense is it Nazi-like? This is complete hysteria.
My position is that this letter is but one example of how badly the Church handled pedophile priests: with utmost care for them and the Church’s reputation (e.g., “the common good,” which was, as we’ve seen over and over, one of the terms used to describe the interests of the clerical class [I think of the Florida bishop who told the married woman who had been blackmailed by her confessor into a sexual affair that if she went public he would ruin her because “I have to protect the people of God.”). My position is that this only shows that Cardinal Ratzinger was complicit in this machinery of injustice for children and families. My position is that this is completely unsurprising, given how compromised the hierarchy is, and given how it handled these things at the time. My position is that, therefore, this is not really that big a deal, in the grand scheme of things, and that we have to recognize that a) Cardinal Ratzinger changed after his 2002 wake-up call, b) that’s the Ratzinger who’s running the Church now, and c) he should realize that there is much more to be done to flush out the rot that even he was a part of, and to redeem the hierarchy.
My position is that it’s simply bizarre to see people taking extreme positions on this, neither of which is realistic. Either this news means Benedict was a veritable Cardinal Law, and must resign, resign, resign, because his evil act was irredeemable (the Andrew Sullivan position), or Benedict is utterly without fault, and anyone who suggests that he was wrong here is some sort of crypto-Nazi hater of Catholics and all that is good and holy, and oh, by the way, swimming coaches molest kids too, and by the way the California judiciary is wicked.
Both stances seem simply bizarre to me.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm


One last thing: how do you think Card Ratzinger’s letter and reasoning sound to the people who were tied up and abused by Father Kiesle? What do you think their parents make of it?



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Roland de Chanson

posted April 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm


I agree about the absurdity of both extreme stances.
The point is that in this instance Ratzinger had to consider more than Kiesle’s request for laicization. This was not automatically granted. Cummins had already suspended him. He was “volunteering” at a parish, ostensibly without Cummins’ approval. The dicastery had no jurisdiction over pedophile cases at the time. In any event, Ratzinger was asked to rule on a voluntary petition for laicizaton (dispensation) from the priest, not a penal sanction from the bishop. Any priest can be suspended by his bishop, even permanently. The priest can appeal to Rome for redress, but otherwise has no recourse against the bishop. Again, here, it is the priest who was requesting laicizaton.
Incidentally, I do not in any way associate myself with the Goebbels’ remark. But I see no reason to retract my original statement – your post title is contumelious. It would be a gesture of both Christian charity and journalistic responsibility to revise it.



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James

posted April 11, 2010 at 1:07 pm


It is not possible to expect Rod to be dispassionate and balanced and to put things like the Ratzinger letter in their proper context. I honestly do not know why he continues to blog about this issue at all—it’s too emotional for him.
Rod, do you think harping on this so-called “breaking news” in the “Catholic sex scandals” is good for you psychologically or spiritually?



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Don Altobello

posted April 11, 2010 at 1:44 pm


“It is not possible to expect Rod to be dispassionate and balanced and to put things like the Ratzinger letter in their proper context. I honestly do not know why he continues to blog about this issue at all—it’s too emotional for him.”
Really, James?! From where I’m standing, Rod (and John Allen) is probably *the* most dispassionate and even keeled journalist reporting on these recent events.
“Rod, do you think harping on this so-called “breaking news” in the “Catholic sex scandals” is good for you psychologically or spiritually?”
Okay–by that logic, nobody should investigate nasty and horrible things because it would harm their spiritual life. Thus, nothing ever gets exposed to the light of day. Wa-la, problem solved!



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stefanie

posted April 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm


Zach Treed at 4:33: The prison analogy cited in the story you link does not hold up for the simple reason that priests in parishes do not have significantly more access to boys than to girls.
Au contraire. Especially in the 1970s and 1980s, girls were not going to be altar servers. Girls most likely weren’t invited along on camping trips or “sleepovers” at rectories (all of which were revealed to be opportunities for abuse when the Boston Globe broke its stories in 2000.) So even though girls were obviously part of parishes, parish schools, etc., there were probably far more opportunities for predatory priests interested in boys to encounter the boys, apart from the girls.



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Simon

posted April 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm


Rod, the Goebbels reference was overheated, and I apologize for that.
Nevertheless, your headline “take your time with that pedophile” creates the impression that Ratzinger wanted to keep this man in active ministry or was an obstacle to getting this monster away from kids. That’s simply false, and it’s not a close call.
The question addressed by Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1985 letter (which I am told by those with better Latin and experience with such documents was essentially a form letter) had nothing to do with punishment. Had it been a disciplinary matter, it would ordinarily have been outside the CDF’s jurisdiction. This was a request by an abuser — who had already been tried, convicted, and removed from ministry — to be allowed to assume the status of layman in the Church, free from all vows. Laicization is not a punishment in the Catholic Church, despite the media’s constant use of the nonsensical term “defrocking.”
The delay in granting that request was routine. It had no impact on the abuser’s victims or anyone else. There was no covering up of anything. And the request was eventually granted in 1987.
There wouldn’t even be a news story here except that the name Ratzinger appears on one document (Bishop Cummins has been quoted this week as saying he has no memory of writing to Cardinal Ratzinger about this case, but wishes he had). That and the use of the form language “for the good of the universal Church”, which apparently reminds journalists of excuses given for cover ups in other cases, but which has no relevance to any cover up here, because there wasn’t one.



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hlvanburen

posted April 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm


“So, we have investigating Bendict for waiting to release this guy from his priestly vows, but not investigating why a judge gave him three years probation for tying up and molesting kids, Are you serious?”
1) The judges typically face election every 4 years or so. Did Cardinal Ratzinger?
2) Was this judge promoted to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? If so, you may have a parallel.
3) So now you are saying that your Pope is no worse than a radical judge?



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Your Name

posted April 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Simon,
As I’ve long said if the Pope tied up, raped, ritually sacrificed, and cannibalized a baby on the altar as St. Peter’s during high Mass, many “conservative” Catholics would still defend him. Thanks for proving my point.



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Your Name

posted April 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm


Zach,
Father James Porter and Father Marcial Maciel Degollado both raped boys and married and fathered children. Fr. Degollado was so fond of married life that he committed bigamy.
As for you bs about priests having access to girls, during the height of the scandal, Catholic HIgh Schools were sexually segregated. Priests raped boys at my all boys Catholic high school and the Jesuits transferred them to other places where they were prosecuted and convicted. Some of the pederast priests at my high school were the worst homophobes. That didn’t stop them from wrestling publicly with 13-year-old male students. The John Jay study showed that priestly molestations decreased with the age of the victim after the age of 14. So priests don’t like boys with hair on their balls, much less other secondary sexual characteristics, like beard growth. Doesn’t sound so gay to me.
As for attacking gays as potential criminals you, as a Catholic, might want demand that those who actually committed crimes are turned in to the civil authorities. Otherwise, people will see you as scapegoating gays to protect pederasts and pedophiles.



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Doug

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm


Isn’t it ironic that when a priest questions any aspect of the official Holocaust ™ tale, he is excommunicated, but when a priest rapes a child he is protected and defended?



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djs

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm


“In what sense is my headline inaccurate?”
First, your headline – “Bishop, take your time with that pedophile” -
declares something that is simply untrue. The Bishop was not advised to go slow. Whatever the merits of the broader point that you think that you are making, those merits do not change the simple fact that that the headline is false; neither do they justify the falsehood.
Second, the headline is too elliptical. Many media reports and many commenters – give the impression that “take your time” pertained to criminal proceedings, public exposure, suspension, defrocking, “canning”, etc. – instead of the issue at hand – dispensation from the vow of celibacy. Your headline contributes to that misunderstanding.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm


Simon: Nevertheless, your headline “take your time with that pedophile” creates the impression that Ratzinger wanted to keep this man in active ministry or was an obstacle to getting this monster away from kids. That’s simply false, and it’s not a close call.
That’s one way to read it, I guess, but I meant it as an expression of how unbothered Card. Ratzinger was by the fact that there was a child sex abuser requesting laicization, with the approval of his bishop, but the cardinal’s (and Rome’s) greater concern was that cutting this evil man off from the priesthood might set a bad example (because he was young, it seems from the verbiage in the letter). Again, I see this not as anything unusual among Catholic hierarchs of the era that ended abruptly in 2002. These guys by and large were insensitive to this stuff.
Along those lines, I wrote in 2001 about a pederast Carmelite who worked his way through boys in his Third World posting, and whose superiors brought him back to the US, and put him in ministry in a Bronx parish, where he molested another boy. He was then moved up to a state forensic facility as chaplain, and was allegedly caught by a Protestant chaplain photographing mentally ill criminals who had been drugged into a stupor (by their physicians, to keep them from being violent); Father was having them pose shirtless, according to the Prot chaplain, who was shown the photographs and who went to the facility’s chief, and got nowhere with his complaint. I was trying to get to the bottom of it when I was abruptly pulled from the story and told not to write about this again.
My point is simply that this kind of attitude was rampant among Catholic authorities until virtually the day before yesterday. Is it that they wanted children to be sexually abused? No, I cannot believe that it is. It’s that they didn’t see these children. I don’t think Card. Ratzinger saw them either. At least, I would be very surprised if he did, and that would make him extraordinary in his era. John Allen’s reporting (and similar things I heard back in 2002-03 from a Roman source) suggest that Ratzinger was like all the rest, until the American scandal shook him out of his fog.



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm


The longer this thread goes, the more bizarre and out of touch with reality the comments become.
Again, Ratzinger’s role in this only had to do with dispensing the guy from his prieslty vows. It had nothing to do with punishing him, removing him, imprisoning him, protecting him, or anything else.
So, most of your comments make no sense and simply illustrate your prejudice against Benedict.



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Clive Moebeetie

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:40 pm


Rod: “…this kind of attitude was rampant among Catholic authorities .”
Yes, okay, so that’s the real point you were trying to make. We get it. But I am sorry, Rod, I still think you’re looking like you’re on thin ice about this one. Your headline gave me the entirely wrong idea when I first saw it. I wish you would just admit it instead of temporizing about it. We all flub up. But your excuse making is beginning to look lame. And I think you’re better than this.



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stu

posted April 11, 2010 at 4:46 pm


“John Allen’s reporting (and similar things I heard back in 2002-03 from a Roman source) suggest that Ratzinger was like all the rest, until the American scandal shook him out of his fog.”
This is where I have a problem. “All the rest” could mean many different things. There were Bishops who were actively covering up abuse and transferring priests to commit more heinous acts, and then there were Bishops like Ratzinger who seem to have been more concerned with theological issues than taking a strong stand against child abuse (although in this case it was the priest who asked to be laicized, so I don’t see how defrocking him would have been taking a stand against child abuse). The media reports seem to paint him as a Cardinal Law figure, rather than a cleric disconnected from the gravity of the problem. Morally there is a huge difference.



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm


btw, Rod, my last comment was directed more at some others here rather than to you.
I do not think that you are prejudiced against Benedict per se, and cetainly not simply becasue he is the Pope.
There are others commenting who I think have shown that they would hate anyone who happened to be the Pope.
I do think, however, that even if you are not ill-disposed towards Benedict, you are pre-disposed to think certain things about him because of your history of journalism on the child abuse topic.
And perhaps you will be shown to be correct about this some day. However, as things stand today my point is that none of these recently dredged up matters has shown, much less proved, that Benedict turned a blind eye to sexual abuse of children. To say that they do is to go way beyond the facts put forward, and that illustrates a certain pre-disposition at the least, or malice at the worst, on the accuser’s part.



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sigaliris

posted April 11, 2010 at 5:58 pm


The longer this thread goes, the more bizarre and out of touch with reality the comments become. Isn’t that the truth. Though, like many other statements under discussion here, my interpretation might be 180 degrees from the way Thomas Tucker meant it.
It’s that they didn’t see these children. I don’t think Card. Ratzinger saw them either. And that’s the stark truth, too. Rod has summed it up in two terse sentences. The victims were invisible. And by the reactions of many prelates and clerics, I’d say many of them wish it could be so again. Rod has spoken the truth about this matter, again and again. The truth lies bleeding on the ground, and people want to quibble over the wording of a headline. Y’all know I butt heads with Rod frequently, but on this issue I have to defend him. Insinuations that he has some personal animus against the Catholic Church are absurdly mistaken. If anything, he is too respectful for my taste. He has said repeatedly that he cares about the survival of the Church and considers it essential to the survival of a Christian culture. I don’t agree with him there–but I don’t see how it’s possible to read his oeuvre and not get that he’s a defender, not part of the wrecking crew. Too bad, from my POV. I’d love to see him take a crowbar to this thing–but he hasn’t done that. When you tear him down, you’re turning on one of your own.



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GrantL

posted April 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm


It never fails to amazing me how the first reaction among many Catholics to this sort of thing is not outrage at their religious leadership for failing so epically and for so long, but at those who have the gall to blow to the whistle or say simply “this is unacceptable.”
The scandal had returned to Canada – again – with a group of bishops in Ontario urging the Vatican to keep quiet the sexual abuse of a priest who was shipped to Rome to avoid scandal when his crimes were found out:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/vatican-canadian-church-officials-tried-to-keep-sex-scandal-secret/article1528471/
How many more of these cases have to come to light before apologists will finally admit there is something drastically wrong with the Catholic church?



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm


sig- again, there is no evidence to say that Benedict “didn’t see these children.” That is speculation and conjecture.
GrantL- I agree, to some extent. Fialure to report something like this is reprehensible. In the case that you just linked to, the bishop AND the vitim’s counsellor should both have called the police. Wjy didn’t the counsellor? I don’t know except to say that there appears to be an inhibition about doing so among many people, not just bishops. And that is a situation that I hope has improved, twenty years later.



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm


Good Lord, I should have proofread that last comment before posting.
I apologize for the dyslexia.



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GrantL

posted April 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm


Thomas Tucker: Well yes, perhaps the counselor should have. I don’t know the rules the counselor was working under, and no information about said counselor is in the reports or the bishop’s letter. The counselor did, according to the letter, urge the victim to go to the police, but the victim refused out of deference to the church even if he was concerned about how the church was handling it.
The worst part about this case is the how the sole concern of the bishop who wrote the letter was not for the victims of sex abuse, but for the reputation of the Church in Canada. Several times in that letter he says if this priests crimes are exposed, there would be a scandal and the priest arrested, both of which he wants to avoid. So we see again how the institutional hubris trumps justice in the minds of some of these bishops.
Maybe the worst part of the bishop’s letter is the comment that victims will keep their mouths shut because they are Polish, and by virtue of that will never press charges against a priest. You really have to marvel and the perverted thinking that manages to be slightly racist while trying to cover up a crime all the while belonging to an organization that purports to be the moral light of the world.



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:32 pm


GRantL- I agree with you. That is perverted thinking. No sane moral person could defend it.
I have to say though that there are definitely people in the Catholic Church, both in its leadership and in its membership, who suffer from perverted immoral thinking. I never cease to be amazed by that but such is the reality. When they are in the leadership, they should be drummed out, and when they are in the membership, they should be called to account.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm


See, what Grant talks about is why I would find it shocking if Cardinal Ratzinger wasn’t part of that mindset. The idea that the Canadian bishop found that perverted thinking perfectly okay to discuss with his superiors in Rome tells you how they were thinking in Rome. In a morally sane hierarchy, that kind of thinking would be shameful, and any bishop who trotted out that line with the Vatican would have his head handed to him.
I’ll say it again: they did not see those children. They only saw “the Church,” and by “the Church,” they meant the clergy. I remind you all once again of the American archbishop who told me in 2002 that if I didn’t trust the bishops to address the scandal, he did not understand why I would remain a Catholic. He honestly didn’t understand what was wrong with that way of thinking.

Let me update this post a bit. I just finished James Davison Hunter’s new book (which I’ll be blogging about tomorrow). In it, he speaks of cultural power in the sense of defining the boundaries of what can be conceived within a certain culture. In the pre-modern era, for example, it was impossible to conceive that God didn’t exist. Once it becomes possible to think that God doesn’t exist, then there has been a major cultural shift. I think that within the insular, clericalist culture of the Catholic hierarchy, it was unthinkable to view the abuse scandal in any other way except as focusing on the priest, and the church’s reputation. Victims simply didn’t count for much. The key thing, I think, is not that the hierarchy had conscious contempt for children and their families; it was that it never crossed their mind that there was anything out of order with that strategy.



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Clive Moebeetie

posted April 11, 2010 at 9:28 pm


Sigaliris: “he’s a defender, not part of the wrecking crew.”
I agree. And to avoid possible misunderstanding and to qualify my remarks, most emphatically I do not consider Rod as being part of the “wrecking crew,” even if sometimes when he writes he’s using birdshot, when something more precisely on target is what’s needed.



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thomas tucker

posted April 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm


Rod- there is undoubtedly some truth to that notion of cultural power, and one can find examples of it throughout history. I would simply caution about painting with too broad of a brush, and as a consequence, steotyping people.



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Carlo

posted April 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm


Rod:
We can all agree to the tragedies of clericalism and how disastrously it has played out in matters of sexual abuse, although in my experience the situation is different in different countries. For instance, in southern Europe (France, Spain, Italy) I have never seen it as bad as in the US.
Having said that, the fact remains that out there nobody is really talking about that. The accusation being made is of a systematic, conscious cover up of criminal activity on the part of the current Pope. In light of the facts of the Kiesle case, that’s clearly a slanderous, shameful accusation which your headline appeared to encourage, or at least not challenge.



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TTT

posted April 11, 2010 at 11:26 pm


Scandals like this are going to continue to come out for the forseeable future, since the abuse and cover-ups went on for decades worldwide. And as each successive case reveals that no justice was ever done, that no punishments of any real quality were ever dispensed to the evildoers, the RCC’s credibility will plummet further.
If believers want it to stick around as a culturally meaningful institution, I for one do NOT think it necessary for Ratzinger to resign–but it is necessary to make radical reforms along the lines of “zero tolerance, zero forgiveness, zero expiration dates.” In other words, if it EVER comes to light that ANY member of church hierarchy either committed abuse or failed to IMMEDIATELY AND IN TOTALITY disclose all evidence of abuse to civic authorities–no matter how distantly in the past it may have been–that person would then be immediately defrocked, excommunicated, and banished from Vatican City and any church grounds forever. They would be shunned, cast-out, pariahs.
This would show people that some measure of justice is possible, not just more decades’ worth of coddling criminals and talking about how different things were back then. “Back then” doesn’t matter. The perception of the church here-and-now matters.



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James Kabala

posted April 12, 2010 at 12:47 am


TTT: The Church is never going to declare any sin to be unforgivable. However psychologically appealing that might be, it isn’t going to happen.



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James Kabala

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:35 am


I just wanted to clarify what I meant above. I don’t mean that the Church can’t or shouldn’t bar someone from a position of authority for life. But a lifetime excommunication and barring from Church property (How would the latter even be enforced? Does the Church really have the resources to make sure an ex-cardinal isn’t attending Mass somewhere far from Rome?), presumably with lifetime denial of the sacraments regardless of repentance shown, is incompatible with Catholic (and Orthodox, as far as I know) understanding of the nature of the sacrament of confession.



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Your Name

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:52 am


TTT – the Church has had a zero tolerance for abusers policy in the US for a few years now – as for no forgiveness – James covered that. The expiration date issue applies to the courts not the Church – the Church has no statute of limitations – it is the civil courts which have such.



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Lord Karth

posted April 12, 2010 at 3:28 am


A Newsweek website has an online-only article about the specific issue of child sex abuse and the Church. Among other things, the writer considered two items; insurance payouts and expert opinions from researchers in the field. The Catholic Church may have a problem, but it would not appear to be a problem unique to itself.
Since money plays a role in this matter, let’s follow some of it. There are insurance companies who sell sex-abuse insurance (there are actually such things as “sex-abuse riders” on corporate insurance policies, surprisingly enough) to organizations like Church dioceses—everything from churches to Scout organizations to business corporations. One of the interesting things found was that the insurance companies that cover all denominations apparently do NOT charge Catholic dioceses more in premiums than other churches. That means that Catholic priests/employees (remember, the Church employs laymen as well as priests) are NOT seen as significantly more risky than those of other denominations.
One of the driving factors in all this is simple numbers: since 80 % of claims in the sexual-misconduct area involve the alleged abuse of children, those churches with more programs for children pay higher prices for their insurance in this area. The Catholic Church, it seems, tends to have more programs for children than other denominations. More programs, more opportunities.
Participation in religious-education and youth programs also, coincidentally enough, tends to be of long duration, over many years. This further opens the “window of opportunity”. Recall that, for the molester, it is the building of a relationship over time that allows a “favorable” prospect to be “groomed”—and what more fertile a field for such than in a religious-education program that can take 13 years (from pre-K to high school) to go through ?
Another factor is the sheer size of the organization. The Catholic Church can be likened to a multinational corporation with a great many employees. After Islam, the single-organization Catholic Church is the largest denomination on Earth. Even though more than half of all Americans are Protestants, Protestantism is split among hundreds of far smaller organizations. Smaller groups = smaller and/or fewer programs = fewer opportunities.
According to experts who actually study the field, estimates of the actual rate of sexual abuse among the general American male population range from one in 10 to one in 5. One Margaret Leyland Smith of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice points out that the rate of abuse among Catholic priests is NOT higher than among the general population.
The actual main problem with the Catholic Church seems to be a hierarchical one: the size of the Catholic bureaucracy and its high level of centralization regarding basic personnel matters (laicization matters have to go all the way to Rome, and are apparently handled by a relatively small office within the Vatican) lead to longer lead times in handling a particular case. That can produce problems in that one or two molesters can go unpunished for quite some time while they undergo due process. (Let’s remember that not all abuse reports are true, nor are all reporters unbiased.) Given that most sex-abusers tend to be very talented manipulators, their victims can, and often do, delay reporting incidents for years. This can produce an unfortunate “multiplier effect”; exposure of one rotten priest can lead to hundreds of cases coming to light. A John Jay study found that, over a period of 52 years, 149 priests were responsible for some 25,000 cases studied. That is a very small proportion of the total number of priests serving during that time.
Incidentally, a lack of hierarchy can also produce problems in dealing with this sort of matter; the American Southern Baptists are having a hard time even setting up a database of reports made against their ministers; one of the reasons given was the high level of autonomy given to local congregations and the lack of cooperation that engendered….
Also, be aware of what the Church HAS done to correct the situation. In my own diocese, for example, each and every person working in a parish who comes into contact with children has to undergo a rather rigorous training program and a criminal background check that is more extensive than most secular enterprises use. Since 1992, the Church has even released annual audits about abuse incidents. One wonders what such an audit of the United States Government, or a provincial education system, or the entertainment industry, might produce.
It’s not Catholic doctrine that is the problem; molesters are found in all sorts of religious organizations. Baptists have problems, Jews have problems, Hindus have problems. Anyone going after the Church who blames the current scandal on the doctrine of the Church (especially on matters of faith and morals that go against the extremely permissive secular “morality” of the modern media and entertainment industry) is pushing an agenda. The Church’s problem is of a specific nature: it’s an organizational and public-relations problem. Fundamentally, it’s a people problem, a Human-nature problem. Get rid of Cardinal Law and the rest of that ilk. Clean up the hierarchy. But care must be taken not to throw the Baby (Jesus Christ) out with the bathwater, as the Maureen Dowd crowd would have happen.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Lord Karth

posted April 12, 2010 at 3:40 am


Cecelia @ 3:14 PM (4/10) writes:
“So when you ask what will it take – what do you want? You want all the bishops who didn’t get rid of accused pedophiles immediately to be kicked out? I doubt that will happen. You want the Pope to resign? That won’t happen either. But they will die. And after the generation of the hierarchy who were responsible for this all die – then new bishops and popes who were formed in the crucible of this horror – younger men who will watch thousands of Catholics leave the church – they will be in charge of a much smaller church, a church that has been through a huge upheaval,a church greatly chastened (rightly so) and they will – at least as long as the institutional memory of this lasts – be vigilant on this issue.
The Church has been utterly discredited and it will take several generations of extremely good behavior before people stop associating the word “Catholic” with “sex abusers”.
So – exactly what “more” do people want done?”
First: they want the neutralization of the Church’s moral authority on sexual matters, the better to allow for its sexual moral teachings to be supplanted, first by Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and then by flat-out atheism.
Second: they want the Church bankrupted, and thereby rendered unable to resist a takeover by secular (read: government) authorities. If it happened to GM, it could happen here.
Third: they want the subordination of, and preferably control of, Church personnel matters given directly to secular authorities. The more extreme among them probably want the central government to set up a Department of Religion to “supervise” religious matters.
In other words, the Maureen Dowd crowd wants the end of the Catholic Church as an independent religious body. Holy Mother Church is to be replaced by Holy Mother State. For the serious secularist, nothing else will do.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:09 am


“they want the neutralization of the Church’s moral authority on sexual matters”
It amazes me, that given what has happened, the RCC has any moral authority, but it seems that some members are prepared to excuse the indifference of Bishops to the abuse of children, and still listen to them on matters relating to their intimate relationships.
Like they actually have one ounce of morals, and have anything other than a perverted idea of intimate relationships.



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Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:19 am


Maureen Dowd says it like it is
/www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/opinion/11dowd.html?emc=eta1
As she says:
“The church that through the ages taught me and other children right from wrong did not know right from wrong”



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Goodguyex

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:22 am


For what it is worth nowhere can I find a shread of the answer to several questions:
1. Was the request send by the Bishop for de-frocking (laication) or was it for something else?
2. If it was for laization, why did it go to Cardinal Ratzinger since he did not have authority in these matters at the time?
3. Since “Steve” was appearantly eventually defrocked at the age of 40, did the Vatican do it or did the local bishop? And if the Vatican was involved did Cardinal Ratzinger send a signed note to that effect?
4. Was it more of less common at the time to try to wait till younger priest became 40 years old before defrocking?
And there is another issue here. Seems like “Steve” was so well liked by some people in some parishes that he came back as a youth minister! That is the most ridiculus part of all this! Who was smoking what to let that happen?



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Goodguyex

posted April 12, 2010 at 6:39 am


This is my last post on this thread.
I just want to say that being 61 years old and a Catholic I well remember all the stuff about collegiality of bishops with the pope, and I also remember that the secular media tended to criticise the Pope for getting too involved in the affairs of the local church.
Now the issue has turned and they want the pope responsible everywhere not only for what is happening now but for what went on when they did not want the papacy very involved.
It will be interesting to see how this develops.



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Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 7:43 am


NO, no……….if the laity were allowed to think for themselves, and had control of the church, this would never have happened.
Centralized power is the problem, not the solution.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:09 am


NO, no……….if the laity were allowed to think for themselves, and had control of the church, this would never have happened.
Boy, you’d really better be careful making that statement. You’re saying that Protestant churches have never had to deal with this? If you’re saying the cover-up and therefore the scandal itself wouldn’t have gotten to the extent that it did, I’d say you were probably right. But you mustn’t forget that all people — not just the clerical caste — had reason to deny and cover up this thing. Read Jason Berry’s terrific book “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” about the mid-1980s case involving Fr. Gilbert Gauthe and the Diocese of Lafayette (La.). If memory serves, even the people whose children were molested by Fr. Gauthe wanted it kept quiet, for the supposed good of the Church. (Why do you think the normal thing for parents to do for so long was to go to the bishop instead of the DA?). When Jason Berry wrote his book — a book that exposed the extent to which local Catholic authorities put innocent children and families at risk — he caught hell from his own family for it. People have a powerful emotional and psychological incentive to deny painful truths, and to perpetuate systems that allow them the comfort of that denial.
Carlo, you may not have heard about this stuff happening in southern Europe, but you will. We were told that it was just an American thing … and then came Ireland, and now the Netherlands and Germany. There is no reason to believe that human nature changes at the border of those countries, nor is there reason to believe that the culture of the Church changes. If Rome doesn’t get on top of this now, it’s going to be dealing with the drip-drip-drip for a long time.
Anyway, Carlo, my headline summarized the effect of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter on the situation in Oakland. The cardinal knew this priest requesting laicization to be a pedophile. Yet he told the bishop to take his time cutting this guy loose from the ordained ministry “for the good of the universal church” — which has been persuasively explained as a reference to the blows the Church had taken with so many younger priests leaving the priesthood in the wake of the Council. I don’t see how my headline is untrue. I don’t believe that Ratzinger consciously willed any child to be abused — I don’t believe any bishop did! — but the effect of his letter was to tell the bishop to go slow on putting a convicted pedophile out of the priesthood, and that’s what happened.
Karth, even if you’re right about what Maureen Dowd and her ilk want (to see the Church utterly neutralized) — and I think you are more right than wrong — that doesn’t obviate the facts. If the Devil himself said a true thing, that wouldn’t make it untrue. A conspicuous tragedy here is how the Church and its defenders, by going after the motives of its accusers, are making it that much more difficult for Rome to deal with the actual problem it has, thus making it more likely that those who want the worst for the Church will, in the end, see what they want.



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thomas tucker

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:29 am


Rod- that is simply not correct. Ratzinger was not telling the bishop to take his time in cutting this guy loose. The bishop did not need or seek the Vatican’s approval to forbid him from funtioning in ministry!
They were petitioning the Vatican to release him from his priestly vows. Can you really not understand the difference?



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thomas tucker

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:40 am


Furthermore, just to belabor the point, the bishop had already removed the priest from ministry.
This was being presented to the Vatican office as a request to release the priest from his vow of celibacy.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with a cover up. In fact, the bishop mentions in his letter that the priest’s civil trial in Califrornia had already resulted in a lot of publicity!
You really owe Benedict an apology over this, Rod. And I think you should question if your own biases toward the Catholic heirarchy on this matter are you keeping you from seeing this clearly.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:51 am


Tom, can you not see that I’m not accusing Card. Ratzinger of a “cover up”? I’m accusing him of not grasping the horror of child sex abuse by a priest, and therefore putting a model of the “good of the universal church” that included retaining sex offenders in clerical ranks above a more sane and decent model, which would have treated these offenses with the outrage (and resulting action!) that they deserved. In this, Card. Ratzinger was no different from any of the rest of them. But Card. Ratzinger was deeply wrong.
Are you saying that the Holy See was correct in urging the bishop to go slow on the laicization of this convicted pedophile? If so, how do you justify that? If not, why are you complaining about my criticism?



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Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:31 am


“People have a powerful emotional and psychological incentive to deny painful truths, and to perpetuate systems that allow them the comfort of that denial.”
I agree that is so.
I do not see how that in itself denies what I think. Berry’s family problems resulted from the deep respect we have ingrained in us for the clergy. We were taught to treat them like royalty. The Bishop visiting the parish was akin to the Queen visiting the parish.
Every word they spoke were the words of God himself.
The Church speaks of conscience, but in reality, we are not expected to use it, We are expected to obey. It was so when I was a boy, it lightened up after V2, but we are back to Bishops telling us what to think.



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Carlo

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:44 am


Rod:
excuse me, culture matters. To think that the pedophilia scandal has nothing to do with particular times and places but reflects a universal aspect of “Catholic culture” is silly. You should travel more outside the English speaking world.
I will grant you clericalism is a fairly universal temptation, but its specific incarnation we are talking about certainly is not, and you should be open to the possibility that your perception has been seriously skewed by your personal experience (as is true for us all, of course)



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Carlo

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:50 am


Rod:
one more thing: culture matters so much that I think it was a major reason why the average clergyman in Rome had a hard time understanding the scope of what was going on, say, in California in the 1970′s or in Ireland in the 1950′s. To me that is as much an explanation of their slow response as clericalism.



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Michael C

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:54 am


I suggest you read some church history. The Church has been making rules about soliciting in the confessional, and sodomy in the priesthood for 1600 years. Back then they were talking about the known world. Southern and Northern Europe.



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thomas tucker

posted April 12, 2010 at 9:54 am


Rod- are we using the same terms in the same way? Forget these terms defrocking and laicization. LEt’s see if we agree on the following:
The priest had already been reomved from ministry by the bishop. Is that correct?
What Benedict was to decide was whether or not to release him from his vow of celibacy. Do you agree?



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:34 am


Tom, can you not see that I’m not accusing Card. Ratzinger of a “cover up”? I’m accusing him of not grasping the horror of child sex abuse by a priest, and therefore putting a model of the “good of the universal church” that included retaining sex offenders in clerical ranks above a more sane and decent model, which would have treated these offenses with the outrage (and resulting action!) that they deserved. In this, Card. Ratzinger was no different from any of the rest of them. But Card. Ratzinger was deeply wrong.
Are you saying that the Holy See was correct in urging the bishop to go slow on the laicization of this convicted pedophile? If so, how do you justify that? If not, why are you complaining about my criticism?



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:35 am


Tom: Rod- are we using the same terms in the same way? Forget these terms defrocking and laicization. LEt’s see if we agree on the following:
The priest had already been reomved from ministry by the bishop. Is that correct? What Benedict was to decide was whether or not to release him from his vow of celibacy. Do you agree?
No, Tom, you’re mistaken. Read the actual documents. The very first letter to Rome (to Card. Seper) requested full laicization, including (but not limited to) the vow of celibacy. This formulation — being removed from the priesthood, including the vow of celibacy — is repeated throughout the diocese’s communications with Rome. If you read the documents, it is clear that a) Kiesle was convicted of child molestation, b) the bishop and his other local superiors judged him to be immature and utterly incapable of exercising priestly ministry, and c) he refused to obey authority. If you look at Card. Ratzinger’s response, what he (speaking for the Roman court) is concerned about is the potential scandal to the faithful over letting someone so young out of his priestly vows. As the correspondence from the Oakland diocese points out, the public scandal that had already occurred from publicity over Kiesle’s child molestation being reported in the press was huge — and leaving such a man in the priesthood would, in the judgment of the local bishop, cause greater scandal than removing him.
It is simply inexplicable that Card. Ratzinger saw greater harm to the church from kicking an early middle-aged convicted child molester out of the priesthood than by letting him stay in.
I don’t understand why the vow of celibacy was singled out of the general request for laicization. I suspect a canonist might be able to explain it. You might say that laicization was pointless given that Kiesle had been removed from ministry. But clearly that didn’t stop Father Kiesle — and he was entitled to call himself Father Kiesle — from finding a way to weasel into ministry. Note the outraged letter a youth director at a parish wrote to a bishop demanding to know why he (the bishop) won’t act against allowing a convicted child molester to be youth minister in a parish. I can tell you from personal experience that a few years ago in Dallas, a priest, Father Christopher Clay, who had been removed from ministry by the Diocese of Scranton after he had been accused (note: accused, not convicted by a church court or any other court) of molesting a minor came to Dallas and went to work in a parish I was attending. It turned out that the pastor knew perfectly well about the accusation against Fr. Clay, yet chose to disbelieve it. He also chose to put Fr. Clay into active ministry in the parish — and to hide this fact from the local bishop, until I exposed it. Now, Father Clay was legitimately able to present himself as Father Clay in those days, and because a priest, was able to perform licit sacramental duties. The fact that he had been suspended from ministry by the diocese in which he was incardinated did not stop him.
I note again here that we do not know if Fr. Clay was guilty of the accusation or not. But we do know that he was not supposed to be in ministry. Had he been laicized (N.B., he had not requested laicization; I’m just using this as a hypothetical), he couldn’t have found a way to work with a pastor willing to deceive the bishop in order to put Fr. Clay to work among the faithful. He couldn’t have confected the sacraments, and thus would have been useless to the pastor.
Would laicizing a Fr. Kiesle have prevented him from molesting again? No, of course not. But what it does is remove the legal responsibility for him from the Church, and, more importantly, prevents a molester priest from using his status as a clergyman to work himself into a position to molest again — and, in turn, would prevent him from dirtying the name of Christ, and helping to damage the authority of the Church via his crimes.
That Card. Ratzinger — and his colleagues in Rome — saw more potential scandal from letting a young(ish) priest, even one who is a notorious sex criminal, out of his priestly vows than from keeping him there — and that they sat on the case for years, despite protests from the local bishop — does not show criminality (to me) as much as it shows a complete lack of moral seriousness about the nature of these crimes.



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:39 am


Oh, Carlo, honestly. Of course local culture has an effect on the scandal. Culture affects everything. The US legal culture and its norms, as well as the US journalism culture, assured that this stuff got out here before anywhere else. But if you really think that the French, the Italians and the Spanish Catholics and their clergy are so very different in human nature, and in their clerical culture, than human beings and the Catholic hierarchy in other countries, you really do need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid. It would be fantastic if it turned out that child sexual abuse was largely unknown among the French, Spanish and Italian peoples, including Catholics. It would be fantastic if the French, Spanish and Italian bishops had a sparse or non-existent record of covering up such cases when they occurred among their own priests. But it would also be a miracle.



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James

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:04 am


Rod,
Point taken that Cardinal Ratzinger was *shortsighted* in considering the speed at which the priest should have been dismissed from the clerical state.
But your headline screams much more than that, and it is not justified.



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Lord Karth

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:08 am


Mr. Dreher, @ 8:09 AM, writes:
“Karth, even if you’re right about what Maureen Dowd and her ilk want (to see the Church utterly neutralized) — and I think you are more right than wrong — that doesn’t obviate the facts. If the Devil himself said a true thing, that wouldn’t make it untrue.”
So stipulated. But do remember that the Devil “may quote Scripture to his purpose”. Each of the Church’s many critics, from myself to Maureen Dowd, has a purpose in mind as to what that criticism is to achieve. For my part, I would see the Church re-evaluate some of its “reforms” that were foisted off on it during Vatican II, but I do not wish it to be destroyed. I wish to have it get back to its roots, so to speak, and be “more Catholic”; to identify being a Catholic as a distinctly separate way of living. If that means going back to being a “Gideon’s Band”, then so be it. In Western Europe and North America, it already is.
I believe that many, if not most of the Maureen Dowd Crowd are NOT concerned with abused children first and foremost, but with using the issue to force doctrinal changes on the Church that would effectively render it indistinguishable from the Episcopalians. Otherwise, why are they focussed nearly exclusively on:
a) ending priestly celibacy (when sexual abuse of children occurs in ALL religions and walks of life);
b) ordaining women, which would almost certainly open the door to the Church’s subjection to “non-discrimination” laws and effectively put its personnel-selection policies at the mercy of the government. How does this prevent the abuse of children ? Government schools, who are presumably subject to those laws, don’t seem to have a particularly impressive track record in that regard;
c) expanding “lay control” over matters not only of personnel, but of doctrine, thus opening the doors to the Church being effectively at the mercy of the visual/entertainment media, with all the mob domination and short-term “thinking” that implies. When have the visual/entertainment media (and their backers/executives) ever been supporters of sexual restraint of any kind ?
None of these measures would actually SOLVE THE PROBLEM AT HAND. What they would do, however, is to solve the “problem” of the Church’s existence and its effectiveness as an advocate for the ideas it claims to support, in the eyes of many of those critics.
What this is fundamentally about, Mr. Dreher, is the basic nature of an institution that you yourself, I believe, have described as one of the last bastions of Western culture on Earth. If the MDC was calling for examination of Church policies about how it polices its priests to make sure that they are obeying their vows of celibacy, that would be one thing. If there were more calls for examining how or whether current policies with regards to Church employees’ contact with children have reduced the level of reports, that would be one thing. But I’m not seeing ANY of that from the MDC or its fellow-travelers.
“A conspicuous tragedy here is how the Church and its defenders, by going after the motives of its accusers, are making it that much more difficult for Rome to deal with the actual problem it has, thus making it more likely that those who want the worst for the Church will, in the end, see what they want.”
Examining the motives of one’s accusers is a necessary (albeit not a sufficient) way of examining a case to make sure that justice is done.
Justice, after all, is supposed to ensure that ALL sides to a controversy are treated in a fair manner. Unless one starts off with the assumption that ALL Catholic priests and Church employees/volunteers are child-abusers, which is what the MDC seems to be assuming, then examining the various accusers and critics of the Church would seem to be part of a valid approach. This is why an accused party in a court case is allowed a chance to put on a defense. This is why the right to confront and cross-examine one’s accusers was considered a right important enough to be included in the Constitution.
There ARE good and decent and honorable priests, and there ARE good and decent and honorable bishops and even, perhaps, good and honorable and decent Cardinals and Popes. Thoroughly and methodically determining who is innocent and who is not is an utter necessity here, and that is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the MDC is calling for. If we fail to use proper method and fair procedure here, we may find ourselves saying “We had to destroy the Church in order to save it”, with the capering mob of plaintiffs’ lawyers, media people and other anti-Catholics howling in the background.
Abuse has taken place; stipulated. The next question becomes “what is/has the Church done to make sure that no future abuse occurs ?” I don’t see an awful lot of discussion of that in the so-called “public discourse” on the subject. We know that dioceses have taken measures of varying sorts and kinds; what do we know about them, and what do we know about how they have worked ? I see next to nothing about that; certainly nothing in the New York Times !
We then ask ourselves: “what can be done for those who have been victimized ?” Monetary compensation in many cases, but what has been done about getting treatment/therapy/counseling for those victimized ? I see less on that issue than I would expect.
If we actually seek to do justice, then let us seek to do justice to ALL parties in this sad affair. And that does, believe it or not, include the Church and the people who serve it.
Let us address the problem, Mr. Dreher. But let us address the right problem, in the right way, and to see to it that justice is done to ALL those involved. Otherwise, we might as well all update our resumes and start applying for copy-boy jobs at the New York Times.
Your servant,
Lord Karth



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 11:25 am


Eduardo Penalver from the Commonweal blog gets the Kiesle situation close to right, I think:
And that is why the 1985 Kiesle letter deserves the attention it is receiving. The letter has the potential of offering a brief glimpse into the thinking of the current Pope on substantive issue — the perceived significance of child abuse (at least as compared to other institutional considerations) — in a situation where there was no question of the priest’s guilt and years before the problem was clearly identified as an institutional threat requiring the attention of Ratzinger’s considerable bureaucratic talents.



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James

posted April 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm


From Fr. Ray Blake:
Another letter dredged up to damage the Pope from 1985 is being presented as him trying to cover-up a paedophile priest.
After having his ministery restricted; forbidden to wear clerical dress, to say Mass publically, to preach, to hear Confessions, to present himself as a priest, by his bishop, Fr Stephen Kiesle asked to be released from his obligation of celibacy, his obligation to say the Divine Office and his obligation of obedience to the his Bishop and his subjection to those parts od Canon Law relating to clerics, the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote urging caution for, “the good of the universal Church”.
Priests can be “laicised” or “defrocked” for two reasons:
1. As a punishment for grave crimes, in which case it is a degradation. In which case the Bishop applies for the individuals dismissal.
2. As a privelege, for those who wish wish to remain in good standing with the Church, eg those who wish to marry. In which case the individual applies through his Bishop.
Once a priest is reduced to the lay state a bishop has no more authority over him than he does over any other lay person. He cannot restrict his movement, to another part of the country where he would be unknown, or restrict his involvement with secular organisations, such as youth groups or schools, neither can a bishop order to him to undergo therapy, or to co-operate with an ecclesiastical trial. In the Kiesle case granting his petition for laicisation would have placed him not only outside of the bishop’s jurisdiction but also given him the opportunity of moving out of the jurisdiction of the civil authorities who were aware of his crimes, which were in the Oakland area in the public domain.
Thus the phrase for “the good of the universal Church” far from being a dereliction of duty and cover-up on the part of the future Pope, as so many secular commentators have suggested, is the complete opposite. As others have pointed out this letter appears to be a “form” letter, and was issued one week into Cardinal Ratzinger’s tenure at the CDF, I would suggest it shows the wisdom of the Church’s caution in washing its hand of sinful priests. The “good of the Universal Church”, is not always the safest or easiest option for the Church.
http://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2010/04/good-of-universal-church.html



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thomas tucker

posted April 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm


First of all, I don’t think it offers a glimpse into Ratzinger’s thinking at all since he had just barely taken over the Vatican office and this was essentially a form letter.
Second, what you say doesn’t make complete sense. Laicizing the guy doesn’t prevent any further legal action against the Church. Hadn’t the guy already been laicized when he was found to be working as a youth minister? Would that have prevented legal action if he had offended again at that time? Furthermore, the guy could continue to call himself Father till the cows came home if he wanted to.
No, I think the best explanantion is that this is essentailly a form letter and Ratzinger hadn’t even had time to consider the particulars of this or any other case case, having just taken office. And he knew that the guy had already been removed from ministry by the bishop. TO say that this is evidence that Ratzinger didn’t care is plain wrong.
One thing I think is really peculiar is why the priest himself is requesting relief from his vows- I would like to know why that is.
I think Lord Karth’s observations are all excellent- these old cases say nothing about what is going on in the Church today. Just to participate in my kids activities at Catholic school, I had to take a course in child abuse education! Yet you don’t see any stories about what policies are in effect today. And you damn sure don’t see any stories about what is haeppening to prevent abuse in other denominations. Why? Because these stories are really political in nature.



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Carlo

posted April 12, 2010 at 12:46 pm


Rod:
So, you are saying that episcopal inability to react to sexual misbehavior by priest has been the same at all times and in all places? I may be drinking the Kool-aid, but you are not looking at historical reality. Some times and places have done a much better job than other times and places. Church history is a patchwork of lights and shadows, with periods of great corruption and period of successful reform and widespread sanctity. Your cynicism (“everywhere it is the same”) is just wrong and plays to the advantage of the enemy (Satan, I mean).



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:01 pm


OK, Carlo, I’ll make a bet with you. Seriously, you find a neutral arbiter, and I’ll put up $100 that says within five years, we will have information that shows the abuse scandal in France, Italy and Spain was substantially the same as in the US, Ireland and elsewhere, in terms of both numbers and episcopal response.
That’s a bet I would love to lose. But it’s a bet I don’t expect to lose.
Actually, making a real bet would not work; this blog is not even five years old, and who knows if I’ll be doing it five years from now. Still, is that a bet you would take? Would anybody in their right mind take it?



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Rod Dreher

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm


Please go see this short but powerful Michael Sean Winters essay from the America magazine blog, criticizing the media sharply for what he considers shoddy reporting in the Kiesle matter. It’s the best thing I’ve seen defending Card. Ratzinger on this.



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Erin Manning

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm


I wasn’t planning to comment out here further, but there is something I’d like to say; after that, I’m going to be absent from this blog for a while.
Both James and Thomas Tucker have things right, here. Does anyone know, or care, about what happened in regard to Kiesle after he was, in fact, laicized?
Guess what? He got married. His legal record at some point was expunged (at his request!), so he wasn’t required to register as a sex offender. In 2002 authorities where he lived dug up his front yard as they investigated some missing girls in the area (interestingly, that news article from 2002 says he was “defrocked” in 1978, since to all intents and purposes he ceased to function as a priest at that time). He was charged again with 30-year-old abuse charges, but those were dropped as the statute of limitations had expired (civil; the Church, of course, lost all its ability to investigate or punish the man when he was laicized in the late 1980s). Finally, he was convicted in 2004 of a new offense against a child, a young girl he molested in 1995 at his home. People knew him as the “Pied Piper” of the neighborhood because of his popularity with children; they didn’t, apparently, know he was an ex-priest convicted of molestation.
That little girl, that last (known) victim? Any other victims of Kiesle’s? They don’t matter to anyone here, do they? All that matters was that the Church didn’t want to give him the freedom to marry and permission to live the lay life, in which he was excellently able to hide his history and his proclivities. Because, you know, the Church just doesn’t give a damn about children.
The “good of the Universal Church” might have required forbidding this creep to become a married lay person and forcing him to remain under the jurisdiction of his bishop–preferably in a nice cloistered monastery somewhere. At the very least, it would have been prudent to think about that–which was all Ratzinger’s letter ever said in the first place.



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Carlo

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm


Rod:
do you mean in the same historical period, say from 1960 to 1980? In France, Spain and Italy compared to the USA and Ireland? What fraction of total number of victims between the two groups? what about less than 1 to 5?
I will take that bet any day.



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BobSF

posted April 12, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Can I get in on this cyber-action?
One of the things responsible for the abuse scandal is the idea that “it can’t happen here!”. Now, I do agree with Carlo that some cultures are more susceptible to covering up abuse, and I would argue that more authoritarian and, uh… unquestioning, societies are more likely breeding grounds for trouble. With the long history of church/state cooperation in Spain under Franco, I bet there’s much to come from that country.
As for Italy, the aversion to “scandalo” runs high, very, very high. That favors cover-up. On the other hand, people really do like to gossip, so the likelihood of serial abuse going unnoticed is low. Also the shear number of religious mitigates against abuse in a parish.
France, I’m not so sure. There’s a strong current of anti-clericalism in France. People are more suspicious of the Church in general. Still, abuse will be uncovered.



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James Kabala

posted April 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm


Thanks to James (that is a different James from me) and Erin for their informative posts.



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GrantL

posted April 12, 2010 at 5:17 pm


Carlo I am with Rod on this one. The pattern of abuse, denial and cover up, has been repeated over and over and over. It is hard to deny it. There is the national culture the church find itself in and the culture of the church. it is the culture of the church that is responsible for the cover ups regardless of what country its in, and its responsible, ultimately, for killing it by a thousand cuts.
Institutions, like people, have patterns of behavior. This is one of the Catholic churches and betting against new scandals following the same pattern is a bad bet to place.



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Carlo

posted April 12, 2010 at 8:03 pm


GrantL:
we must be talking about two different churches.
I will trust my own experience and take the bet.



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Daniel Conboy

posted April 12, 2010 at 10:10 pm


And Jesus wept.



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GrantL

posted April 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Carlo how you can deny the pattern that has been repeated time and again in Canada, in the United States, in Brazil, in Europe?



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Jim Bludso

posted May 1, 2010 at 1:12 am


If socially unjust and immoral acts were to receive consequences, priests would be deterred from committing them. The issue is more pervasive than just pedophilia. Bishops enjoy, in the U.S., a blanket immunity from civil lawsuits and prosecution by arguing “ministerial exception,” the issue at law that says the first amendment protects religious leaders from judicial interference with the governance of their religious hierarchy.
So, if plaintiff’s lawyers and district attorneys are not allowed to argue against religious leaders malfeasance or social injustice, priests and bishops can exacerbate their ecclesiastic authority, i.e. anathema, in the victimization of their subordinates and followers, it is not much of a leap to pedophilia and protection of the institution instead of the victims.



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